Dorman leads interim study on electronic medical network

Legislative Staff Release

Published: 15-Oct-2010

State Rep. Joe Dorman said it’s time Oklahoma leads the nation in electronic healthcare access, helping patients receive the best treatment.

Dorman and members of the House Health Committee recently discussed advancing the use of electronic medical files throughout the state’s medical system. The Oklahoma Health Information Exchange would provide doctors with 24/7 electronic access to a patient’s medical records, including records from every previous treating doctor and throughout the patient’s life.

“The current paper filing system for medical records has so many downfalls. Doctors do not have easy access to other doctors’ diagnoses, current medications the patient has taken, drug allergies, lab results, medical history and so much more.  With this online access program, all that information would be available with the touch of a few buttons,” said Dorman, a Rush Springs Democrat.

He added that the Oklahoma Health Information Exchange is more secure and safe than the paper file system.

“Only doctors and approved medical personnel will be able to access patients’ medical records. All records are stored through secured computer data ports that are monitored and maintained by secured networks and an IT team,” said Dorman. “Doctors can only obtain the records after being logged in with their username and password, so not just anybody off the street could get on and look at your charts – something that could happen with paper files.”

Jason Doyle Oden, chief information officer for OMS Technologies, Inc., said, “Healthcare I.T. is in a very similar state to the nation’s network of roads and highways during the Eisenhower Administration.  We had cars.  We had roads, but to get us from place to place quickly and to bolster the nation’s defenses, President Eisenhower signed the National Interstate and Defense Highways Act into law.  It created the commerce and mobility we enjoy more than half century later.”

He added, “Federal and state governments are working together again on creating the infrastructure needed to allow Electronic Health Records to follow a patient, better coordinate care between healthcare providers and eventually a better overall health outcome for Oklahomans and Americans.  In this case, we could see it.”

Currently, Oklahoma has many electronic medical record tools in place including the Invisible Bracelet Program. This program allows a private and detailed way to store information so health professionals can easily obtain everything from drug allergies to a diabetes diagnosis to emergency contacts or any other information the person would like to be shared.

Dorman, a participant in the program, said the program could save his life: “I have a drug allergy to Sulfa. If I was unconscious and being treated for injuries, this program allows them to see my drug allergy before they treat me.”

The Invisible Bracelet Program is being used by the University of Oklahoma football players with a tiny pin that can be fastened onto jerseys. People can also put a sticker on their driver’s license or a special key chain. Medical personnel are now trained to check for IBP’s symbols. Casey Stowe, vice president of Doc Via, which created the Invisible Bracelet Program, applied for an Economic Development Generating Excellence (EDGE) grant in hopes of expanding the program across the state.

Dorman said he has high hopes for expanding electronic medical access throughout the state and hopes insurance coverage will eventually include the program.

“Currently, nurses and medical staff are spending way too much time on the phone with insurance agencies that could be spent helping a patient,” said Dorman. “If we can make it possible for a doctor to pull a patient’s medical history electronically and see what insurance will cover, it will help out everyone involved.”

Rep. Dorman added that this move to electronic files could help eliminate prescription abuse by patients because doctors would have an accurate assessment on what medications their patients have already been prescribed, eliminating double-or-more prescriptions.

Speakers at the study included Brian Yeaman MD, Chief Medical Informatics Officer at Norman Regional Health System; John Calabro, Chief Information Officer (CIO) of Oklahoma Healthcare Authority; Dan Golder MD, CIO of Oklahoma Foundation for Medical Quality; David Kendrick, MD, MPH, founder of Greater Tulsa Health Access Network; Craig Knutson, Chief of Staff for the Oklahoma Insurance Department; and Val Scott, Director of the Oklahoma Office of Rural Health.

Presenters at the interim study all favored electronic medical files.

“One of the reasons why we like this idea is because it transforms a paper process into an electronic process, making the information more useful and allowing patients and doctors to interact more effectively,” said Oden. “It frees up time for the doctors to spend with the patients and can save a patient’s life by having all the medical history available electronically for the doctor.”