U.S. Outpaced by Medical-Record Projects Overseas

Friday, October 5, 2007

U.S. Outpaced by Medical-Record Projects Overseas

The United States lags behind some countries in creating a secure, electronic medical-record system. A look at state-run or state-sponsored programs in other nations:

Germany: The first country to begin development of a national health information technology network, Germany issues electronic health cards that carry names, dates of birth and insurance details. Prescriptions can be included on the card electronically. People can decide what, if any, personal medical information, such as drug allergies or chronic conditions, is stored on the cards.

Britain: The National Program for IT established an integrated health-care record service, an archiving system for X-ray and electronic scans and electronic appointment and prescription-transmission systems. In a typical day this year, the electronic patient registry received 1.4 million queries, the electronic appointment service made 16,000 bookings, the electronic picture archives stored 1 million digital images and 100,000 electronic prescriptions were transmitted.

Canada: Canada Health Infoway was launched in 2001 and is implementing the nationwide adoption of electronic health records, including a lifetime record of an individual's health and care history, including lab and radiology test results, past treatments, and prescription and immunization information. The organization expects to have electronic health records for half of the population by the end of 2009.

Norway: Electronic patient records that document patient X-rays, lab results and other information have been widely used for many years. All of the country's hospitals have installed electronic systems, but patient records are not yet comprehensive, easily exchangeable or accessible to patients.

Australia: The National E-Health Transition Authority was established in 2004 to develop a national health information management system.

SOURCES: Health Affairs, German Federal Ministry of Health, Canada Health Infoway, NHS Connecting For Health, Norwegian Ministry of Health and Care Services, Australian National E-Health Transition Authority

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