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Computerized health records growing in California

May 16, 2011 |  1:58 pm

Medical Record Picture Healthcare experts widely agree that computerized records can help doctors and hospitals avoid medical errors and improve the quality of care.

On this score, California appears to be heading in the right direction: Growing numbers of doctors, hospitals and community clinics appear to be giving up their stacks of paper records in favor of technology that serves the same purpose, according to a new report from the California HealthCare Foundation.

Nearly half of physician practices have electronic medical records in place, up from 14% in 2008. Doctors are increasingly relying on computerized systems to order medications rather than writing prescriptions by hand.

Community clinics are embracing the technology with particular gusto: Forty-seven percent said they have implemented an electronic health-record system, up from just 3% in 2005.

The tools “have the potential to reduce errors and adverse clinical events, and to improve the quality and efficiency of patient care,” the foundation said in its report, “The State of Health Information Technology in California.”

But the foundation also found room for improvement.

Although 40% of physician practices have electronic systems that enable their doctors to communicate with patients over email, only about one-third of the doctors do so routinely, it said.

To read the report and view its charts, go to http://www.chcf.org/~/media/Files/PDF/S/PDF%20StateHealthInfoTechnologyCA.pdf.

-- Duke Helfand

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