Physicians are the primary drivers of electronic medical records (EMR/EHR), but who makes decisions regarding the exchange of information between doctors and hospitals? Mary Shedden’s article in the March 25th edition of The Tampa Tribune, “Hospitals, doctors vie to create patient data system” quoted Mathis Becker, president of the Hillsborough county Medical Association as saying: “Industry estimates say 85 percent of all medical records start in an individual doctor’s office. And that’s a reason doctors should be in charge of any exchange network.”
She pointed out in her article that local hospitals have spent “tens of millions of dollars” setting up their own electronic record keeping systems and yet, they cannot communicate outside their own network. Richard Paula, the chief medical informatics officer at Tampa General, was quoted as saying that “a third party vendor may be needed” for data to be available between one hospital network and another. It is estimated that this could be 18 months down the line.
Many hospitals and their physicians have now made it possible for the patients to access their charts online. The patients are able to see test results, make appointments, and ask questions without having to go through a clerk or nurse. EMR/EHR software companies must be ready to help the individual physician become a part of the whole network.
Snedden’s article reminds us that medical records and the communication between the medical establishments is entering a new era, but the communication process between health providers and health systems remain stuck in the era of paper charts.
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