In the future, the rows and rows of manila folders tabbed by color-coded numbers in medical offices will be part of history.
Technological advancements have changed the way that patients receive healthcare and in about 15% of the physicians offices in Louisiana, it's already changed the way that care is recorded in a patient's medical file.
Because converting to a paperless medical record system is costlyas much as $10,000 a year in the first five years, the state is investigating ways to ease the financial burden on physicians, said Roxane Townsend, the state deputy secretary of the Department of Health and Hospitals.
Electronic medical records would not only safeguard against lost records, as evidenced in the 2005 hurricane season, but are seen as ways to improve the quality of care and enhance efficiency of care of patients, Townsend said.
"We would like to see more docs have it, because it's hard to share information electronically, if you haven't created it electronically," Townsend said.
The situation isn't only compounded by the costs for software or hardware, but many offices, particularly those in rural areas, don't even have computers. Before the 2005 hurricane season, there were about 20% of physicians in the state who did not have computers in their offices, according to Townsend.
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