Maine is set to launch a 24-month demonstration of a statewide electronic health-record network that officials say will reduce medical errors, speed critical treatment of patients, serve as a backup to individual physicians records and ultimately save taxpayers $50 million in annual medical expenses.
The project, called HealthInfoNet, will begin the week of Feb. 11 and is expected to cost $6 million, state officials said during a news briefing. The electronic network will allow Maine healthcare providers to create a shareable medical-records database containing information about individual patients prescriptions, health conditions, laboratory test results, treatments and surgeries. Physicians will be able to access and use the records to determine the best course of treatment for patients as well as avoid costly test duplications and life-threatening medication errors, officials said. In addition, state public-health officials plan to use the database to track emerging diseases and infection patterns.
Two thousand healthcare providers, including one-third of Maines physicians and 15 rural and urban hospitals will participate in the demonstration project, said David Howes, vice chairman of the not-for-profit HealthInfoNet, which is a public and private partnership. Physicians and patients participating in the demonstration project will have access to the network in early 2009. Participation in the network will be voluntary for Maine residents, and patients will eventually be able to manage their information for accuracy and grant providers select access to their records. -- by Shawn Rhea
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