It takes a little bit of a push to get some people in the health care industry to adapt to modern technology. Like many, they don’t fully understand the cloud and how it operates. They have some concerns about the safety of storing and transporting their patients’ information electronically. Well, legislators in the state of Oregon have decided to give health care providers in their region the push that they need.
With the implementation of CareAccord, a statewide health information exchange (HIE) program, legislators will duly push Oregon health care providers into the 21st century. Legislators expect CareAccord to improve communication between health care providers, reduce the number of duplicate orders and help physicians fulfill meaningful use requirements.
The Oregon Health Authority (OHA) will administer CareAccord and international IT company Harris Corporation will provide solutions such as Direct Secure Messaging, a point-to-point communications system that allows registered CareAccord health care providers to exchange health information via Internet-connected desktops, laptops, tablets and smart devices.
Although some physicians remain doubtful, transporting electronic patient records is more secure than transporting physical ones. Electronic records are less likely to get lost or stolen or shuffled. Electronic records won’t tear or get curled edges. Although hacking is an ever present threat, it is more likely that someone without a need to know could sneak a peek at a physical document that’s sitting on someone’s desk than at an electronic one that’s encrypted and safely stored in a password protected database.
CareAccord will minimize instances of duplicate orders for blood work, x-rays or prescriptions going out. Because physicians will be able to communicate with each other more easily across the state, even if a patient moves from Portland to Bend, his new physician should be as well informed about the patient’s medical history as his previous one was.
Oregon’s new HIE program should also eliminate the need for patients to answer the same questions about their conditions over and over again. This is particularly relevant to patients who go to clinics where primary care physicians (PCP) are constantly changing, and the patients repeatedly have to introduce themselves to new PCPs every one or two years.
Of course, with this new system will come a need for training and the establishment of policies to govern who can see what records and when. Learning how to use electronic health records can be more difficult for some than it is for others, so the transition certainly won’t happen overnight. The new training and policies will, naturally, have to take into account HIPAA and other health regulations that health care providers must follow.
Whether they like it or not, health care providers in the state of Oregon will have to adjust to using the new statewide CareAccord HIE system. Since using this new system could save physicians and patients time and save health care organizations money, it may not take long for everyone to actually start embracing it. The way things are going, in a few years, whether a patient travels across the state or across the country, her physicians will be able to share her health records and exchange all the necessary information to provide her with the best possible care.
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