OU-HCOM Urging Switch To Electronic Health Records

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Kathy Jefford is driving all over Southeast Ohio on a mission to improve the quality of health care for local residents.

She's helping doctors to implement electronic health records.
Jefford is with the Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine and she's directing a program to provide technical assistance and training.
One might be tempted to say, who cares? Electronic health records – how boring.
But health care officials are convinced that converting patient records from paper to computer can lower costs and even save lives.
OU's College of Osteopathic Medicine is involved in the medical records program through the Appalachian Health Information Exchange.
This is a voluntary association of health care providers in Southeast Ohio that supports a nationwide health information network.
The Exchange has received federal funding of $2.4 million dollars to assist more than 500 primary care providers in 19 southeastern Ohio counties.
Altogether, Ohio received more than $28 million for EHR projects. 
Jefford says health care providers who participate in the program can become eligible for additional funding from the Medicaid and Medicare programs.
Most of the providers who receive assistance are in small, private practices and do not have the time or money to go electronic on their own.
The ultimate goal is a system that provides a patient's medical records with a centralized medical "home", so a physician can monitor overall patient care, including referrals to specialists, home health care and prescribing prescription drugs.
Officials at the O.U College of Osteopathic Medicine say that in addition to improving the delivery of medicine in our region, electronic health records can provide another benefit.
Information about the health status in individual communities and the region, they say, helps the college in training primary care physicians. 
Also, the information can be used to expand research by College researchers to improve preventive health care and to treat diabetes, hypertension and obesity, chronic diseases that are prevalent in the region.