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More than 70 countries are already in the process of implementing electronic medical records. Among them are the United Kingdom and Canada, which are planning to roll out electronic medical record systems by 2010.

The United Kingdom already has committed $11 billion to transitioning patient records to an electronic system. During the past several months, the United States has also taken some initial steps to make electronic medical records a priority.

In President Bush’s State of the Union address in January, he mentioned electronic medical records as key to reducing medical error and costs. In a speech later that month, Bush proposed doubling the current $100 million in federal spending on health information technology.

Still, the United States is in the very early stages of investigating electronic medical records. Last week, a subcommittee of the President’s Information Technology Advisory Committee, called the health-care delivery and information technology subcommittee, offered 12 draft recommendations, here in PDF form, on electronic medical records.

The recommendations highlight specific research needs, the most urgent of which is to ensure standards of interoperability. They also call for research on managing legacy data systems, developing sufficient encryption to allow Internet transmission, and ensuring privacy, identification and security.


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