Advanced medical records systems vital to reducing health care costs

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Published: 7/3/2023 1:32:45 PM

Modified: 7/3/2023 1:29:31 PM

The Cooley Dickinson VNA’s excellent post-hospital care that I have been receiving, using the Epic Health Care Medical Record System (ECHRS) to coordinate their visits, can significantly reduce the expensive cost of medical care in the United States.

This past year the cost of health care in the US was $4.1 trillion, approximately 18% of the gross domestic product, which was $12,530 per person. The cost for medical care in other industrialized countries is about half of the US. For example in Canada the per-person cost of medical care per person is $6,413.

The following was written in a blog about the Ontario electronic health care system: “eHealth Ontario has built the provincial system that gives health care providers at hospitals, long-term family practices, public care homes, pharmacies and more access to their patients ECHRs so that they can quickly look up lab results for publicly dispensed medications, digital images (such as x rays and MRIs).”

In the US the documentation of the COVID vaccine one has received is an example of how coordinated electronic reporting is important.

Among the reasons why medical care in the US is so costly is that many patients are being treated in urgent care centers and emergency rooms, where testing and treating are often redundant and important follow-up care is lacking. In addition, ERs are mandated to treat all patients and non-insured Medicaid’s patients who do not use a primary care doctor but use expensive ERs for all their medical care. Patients’ past records such as allergies, past illnesses and immunizations are often missing and can lead to serious outcomes and malpractice suits.

Using an electronic medical system like Epic, I found when I practiced pediatrics, had a steep learning curve and prevented me from interacting face to face with a parent or patient. Fortunately the practitioners at Northampton Area Pediatrics have overcome the above interaction problems by using a medically knowledgeable person “scribe” to record a visit as they examine the patient and speak to the parent or patient.

Frances and Robert Abrams

South Hadley

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