par Heather Mayer
, DOTmed News Reporter | May 27, 2010
Analysis of the paper records system between 2007 and 2009 showed that inefficiencies were largely due to long times taken to find notes and having that inaccurate contact information.
Brook said that while the upfront cost of implementing an EPR system is expensive, over the long term it will save hospitals and clinics money.
"Clearly there is the upfront cost to set up the system, but once you've done that, all sorts of cost efficiencies [begin]; you don't have paper notes, you don't have to stock paper notes -- savings accrue around that," he said.
While Brook focused on sexually transmitted diseases because that is his area of expertise, he says EPRs will help any department become more efficient and treatment processes more effective. But having an EPR system in a sexual health clinic that helps treat people faster is particularly important.
"The sooner you treat someone, the less likely he is to pass it on to someone else ... so there's an impact on the spread of Chlamydia," he says.
And the quicker someone is treated, the less chance he or she has of developing complications.
WHAT ABOUT CONFIDENTIALITY?
As more facilities institute electronic record systems, the concern for confidentiality comes to the table. This is intensified when it comes to sexual health. Brook pointed out that his clinic's center is extremely secure.
"I believe in our setting, EPR is actually more secure than paper notes," he said. "They sit on shelves inside departments. Someone can break into the department and read them...You can't do that with an EPR."
But in the past several months there have been reports all across the United States of hackers, theft and security breaches in electronic records. For example, in April, a Kentucky medical center notified 5,418 patients of a breach in personal protected health information as a result of a stolen laptop from its mammography suite.
California-based John Muir Health informed 5,450 patients about a potential breach of personal and health information last month as a result of two laptops stolen from the perinatal office, which occurred in February.
And due to a hard drive theft in October, BlueCross Blue Shield of Tennessee identified nearly 1 million current and former members who may have been affected.
It would take a "sophisticated hacker to get into our server to do that," says Brook.
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