Electronic Records for Rural Health Care – Missouri

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COLUMBIA – MU Medical system is opening an assistance center to help health care providers convert to electronic records.

The University of Missouri was awarded a $6.8 million cooperative federally funded grant to open the Missouri Health Information Technology Assistance Center or HIT. The center will mainly focus on health care providers in rural areas who do not have the resources and support system that larger facilities and systems have. HIT will help every step of the way for facilities to convert.

”[The assistance is] all the way from choosing the electronic health record, to implementing it, to redesigning the work flow in the office and actually getting to meaningful use,” said Dr. Karen Edison Center for Health Policy Director. 

”Meaningful use” is defined by the federal government.

If all government standards are met for “meaningful use,” the health center will receive incentives from the government through a stimulus fund.  But, the rural health community is not quite sure if this new program will do the job for individual rural physician offices. Spokesperson for Missouri Health and Senior Services, Brian Quinn, says this program will definitely help rural hospitals but they are still unsure about it reaching to smaller doctors’ offices in rural Missouri communities.

Dr. Edison says that electronic records are the future and that rural health care will have to convert soon or later and they are there to make it happen.

“It’s truly transformative. It’s really going to change the way health care is delivered in this country. And we would like to make sure it is done in a meaningful way that is helpful and not just disruptive. Because it is a big deal to adopt electronic health records, it’s really changing the way business is done,” said Dr. Edison.

Edison says many in the medical business think that electronic records will save money in the long run, and not just because they are saving paper.

“Too often we end up re-ordering tests on patients because we need to know the information but if it was easily accessible people would use that. Many people think that in some ways that will drive down the cost of health care. We will have less redundancy, less fragmentation,” said Edison.

Electronic records will also help the Medicare and Medicaid systems.

“It is particularly important for elderly patients and those with health illiteracy, who may not know what medications they are on or may not be able to tell us about their medical history. Having that information is power for those patients. It empowers them to get better health care,” said Edison.

HIT is hoping to empower those in health care in Missouri and its rural areas to convert to electronic records for their patients and the efficiency of the health care system.
Reported by: Teryn Schaefer

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