Industry Labors in Anticipation of Health Records Standards

By John Hazard  |  Print this article Print


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While a long time coming, standards for health records are welcomed by VARs preparing to digitize health care records.

That there isn't a standard for electronic medical records already is somewhat of a surprise to Brian Deeley.

Deeley's firm, Graymar Business Solutions, provides doctors offices and hospitals with digital voice recognition solutions that record verbal comments on a patient and translate them into complete, electronic health records, ready for transmission around the world.

Graymar's technology may help save someone's life if the records need to be retrieved in a hurry.

But there is no standard that says what information the record must contain, how it may be transmitted or how it may be retrieved.

"Everyone is doing their own thing right now," Deeley said. "And it would be great if someone were to set down a standard before everyone starts jumping into the game [electronic health records]."

The American Health Information Management Association will do just that with the launch of a work group to develop guidelines and definitions as vendors and solution providers design the future of electronic record keeping and transmission.

The workgroup will establish standards for development, tracking and integration of records in the hope that one day all one's medical records will be available electronically, anywhere in the world.

Dictaphone, a dictation software vendor for medical professionals, is sponsoring AMHI's program, to improve the integration of their product and others by the market, said Don Fallati, Dictaphone's senior vice president of marketing and strategic planning.

"As a company, our vision is to ensure that data is not merely collected," Fallati said, "but fully used to inform clinical and business decision-making."

The workgroup is just in time, Deeley said.

"The market is ready to explode," Deeley said. "For right now, everyone is just kind of sitting around waiting, putting off the transition. But doctors, hospitals, medical offices will have to make the move shortly, and the resellers must be ready with solutions."

While much of the industry bowed to the letter of the law in HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act), it missed part of the spirit, Deeley said.

Read more here about VARs and HIPAA compliance.

"If you look at every doctor's office, they have their billing online and in a format like everyone else, but their records are still done largely by hand and kept in those giant vertical cabinets we all know," he said. "HIPAA was supposed to make these things portable."

Medical professionals and executives are reluctant, Deeley said, because of the cost, and many VARs and vendors have yet to enter the game because the sales cycle is limited. The process is expected to be accelerated, however, as the big hospital chains make the switch to electronic records.

"It's the 21st century, and it's coming soon," he said. "We'd better be ready."


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