Health Information Management

News: Electronic records, query systems on their way

CDI Strategies, October 1, 2009

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Many CDI programs use Excel-spreadsheets to track and organize their query processes. More and more, however, facilities are looking to implement electronic health records (EHR) and query systems.
 
Such systems seem to go hand-in-hand with the government’s push for a so-called comprehensive health record under the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). “Although the federal government has long spent billions on healthcare, there is no precedent for the act's massive investmentin accelerating the adoption of health information technology— or for the expanded leadership role that governmentwill assume in this arena,” wrote Robert Steinbrook, MD, in the New England Journal of Medicine’s March 12, 2009 edition.
 
In fact, those CDI programs using spreadsheets over integrated systems may actually be in the majority, not the minority. Steinbrook’s article estimates a mere 17% of U.S.physicians and 8-10% of U.S. hospitals have a basicEHR system. On August 20, CMS published a request for information, seeking proposals to help clarify that statistic. It wants vendors to submit ideas on how to conduct a national scan of existing infrastructures and how to "generate an initial national strategic framework for a national health information infrastructure," by today, Thursday, October 1, according to the synopsis on the Federal Business Opportunities (FBO) Web site.
 
CDI spreadsheet users may not want to curl up complacently with their old programs—the ARRA set aside nearly $20 billion for national (EHR) implementation initiatives through 2014. That’s good news for Todd Johnson, president of Fells Point, MD-based Salar Inc. (a silver sponsor of the 2009 ACDIS Annual Conference in Las Vegas). Johnson’s organization received prominent attention in the Baltimore Sun newspaper recently in the article Md. takes lead in electronic medical records. Encouraged by national efforts three major healthcare systems in the state formed an alliance dubbed the Chesapeake Regional Information System for Our Patients (CRISP) which recently received $10 million in start-up state funding for EHR efforts there, The Sun reported.
 
In the December edition of the CDI Journal, we’ll talk with Johnson and other electronic query providers to help CDI managers determine whether e-query is right for their facility and outline a few simple steps to help get the process started. Look for the October issue of the CDI Journal online today.



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