Aug-06

Toward a Longitudinal Health Record

The federal government and several states have recently funded regional health information organization (“RHIO”) initiatives with the hope of connecting the information systems of hospitals and integrated delivery networks (“IDNs”) in broad geographic regions. These initiatives are in the early stages and face significant roadblocks: (a) each hospital or IDN has a different information system or, even if they have overlapping systems, different data models and medical vocabularies; (b) enterprise-level electronic medical record systems (“EMRs”) currently cannot be integrated in a cost-effective, seamless manner; and (c) RHIOs require funding necessary to address all of the necessary workarounds. Although the RHIO, or “macro” strategy, may be years away from tangible results that can be replicated on a widespread basis, hospitals and IDNs with strong market position can take a “micro” approach that can yield prompt and significant results toward a longitudinal health record and improving patient care.

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