Transitioning from paper to electronic medical records is expensive but many argue an effective way to increase patient safety. Over the past fifteen years, New Hanover Regional Medical Center been making the transition, and they have noticed several advantages. "It's made that information almost immediately available so you as a patient can have a discussion with your physician about your particular situation and you can see what he's seeing,” explained Vice President for Medical Affairs Sam Spicer. Before medical records were electronic, the average turn around time to get radiology x-rays results was about 16 hours. However, it now takes less than an hour. Hospital bracelets patients wear, now have a barcode doctors scan to verify they have the correct patient and medical information. Another reason to have digital records according to Avery Cloud, CIO at NHRMC, "The medical record needs to be in more than one place at one time.” For example, doctors in Raleigh are able to look at this same ultrasound. "When different specialists can review the same information simultaneously it improves the environment of care for the patient,” Cloud said. The problem is, most hospitals still haven't switched to electronic health records. “That's why when you go to offices a lot of times you feel like you're repeating the same information over and over again, because a lot of systems don't talk to each other and we've got to solve that. We've got to get to a standard where everybody in these offices can talk to each other, it's called inter-operability and it's one of the goals of the stimulus funding,” Dr. Spicer said. Doctor Spicer said the hospital didn't necessarily have the funds to make this transition, but they made it a priority. “Even though we don't necessarily have money to do it, we're doing it anyway because it's the right thing to do."
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