Practical Technology

for practical people.

EHR is health care reform we call all agree on

Since I run my own small business, I’m very interested in health care reform. You see, my tiny — two-person — company pays more than four figures a month for health insurance. Ow!

That and taxes are the two biggest expenses on my ledger. Unfortunately, I don’t see much reason for hope in the crippled mess that has made it this far in Congress. Still, no matter what ends up passing into law, one common theme in all the reforms is support for electronic health records, and that’s good news.

EHR is just what it sounds like: maintaining medical records in an electronic format. Some of my records are on papers locked in cabinets. God help me if someone needs to know what my EKGs from a few years back looked like.

I’m not alone. According to an April 2009 survey in the New England Journal of Medicine, only 1.5% of U.S. hospitals have comprehensive electronic records systems, and only 8% have basic systems that cover at least one clinical unit. Think about that: Almost every important financial transaction you do is recorded online, but your medical records are stuck in the 19th century.

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