TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Statewide Medical Records Planned

Statewide Medical Records Planned

Monty Solomon (
Fri, 22 Oct 2004 01:34:51 -0400

Blue Cross to give $50m to boost electronic project

By Liz Kowalczyk, Globe Staff

Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Massachusetts plans to spend about $50
million to electronically link doctors, hospitals, and other
healthcare providers in three Massachusetts communities, allowing them
to share and access patients' medical records.

Blue Cross and more than 25 other insurers, hospitals, doctors and
medical industry groups have formed a nonprofit organization with the
goal of building a statewide electronic medical record system. Blue
Cross, which has earned record profits in recent years, said it will
donate $50 million to test the project next year in three cities or

Doctors who study medical errors and quality of care believe
electronic medical records will substantially improve healthcare.
Done right, they allow doctors spread out in various offices and
hospitals to call up a patient's complete medical history, allergies,
test results and prescriptions -- even though many different
physicians have treated and tested the patient. These systems also can
send doctors alerts to follow up on negative test results with further
testing and warn them when they prescribe a drug to which a patient is

Right now, most doctors keep patients' records on paper in filing
cabinets. Many don't have access to records when their patients
received treatment from another doctor. Even hospitals and doctors
groups that have sophisticated electronic medical records can look up
only their own records but generally can't see their patients' test
results and treatment from other hospitals and doctors.

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