Wisconsin emerges as leader in sharing electronic medical recordsWisconsin has become a leader in sharing medical records electronically, but officials say the state still has a long way to go.
By: Shamane Mills, Wisconsin Public Radio, Superior Telegram
Wisconsin has become a leader in sharing medical records electronically, but officials say the state still has a long way to go.
Most of the major health systems in Wisconsin have committed to sharing records. The goal is to have medical records available wherever a person is – something that could be helpful when, for instance, a patient goes to an emergency room far from home. Doctors unfamiliar with the patient would have access to their medical history and could avoid unnecessary tests.
Joe Kachelski is CEO of the electronic records system called Wisconsin Statewide Health Information Network, which did surveys to find out what people thought about others having access to their medical records. “One of the most common things we heard was, ‘Wait, this isn't happening already? Are you telling me this is not happening? Of course this is a good thing!'”
So far, health care providers in 45 of Wisconsin's 72 counties are committed to sharing medical records electronically. Setup costs are a concern, along with patient privacy.
Steve Little is president of Agnesian HealthCare in the Fond du Lac area, which plans to share patient's health information in hopes of providing better care at lower cost. Patients can opt out and keep medical information private.
“There will be percentage of our population that says, ‘Uh-uh, nobody gets access to my medical records,’” says Little. “In fact we are having that debate as it relates to behavioral [mental] health situations.”
The push for electronic records and a national network to share patient information began with former President George Bush and continues with President Barack Obama. The Wisconsin Statewide Health Information network began in 2010 with initial funding from the 2009 stimulus bill.