All health records could soon be made electronic - - The News for South Mississippi

All health records could soon be made electronic


By Jessica Bowman – email

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - It's a plan to develop a secure statewide electronic network for health information. Facts and figures were presented about that plan at a public meeting Wednesday at Gulfport Memorial Hospital. Officials at the workshop said if electronic health records take the place of paper it could save thousands of dollars.

The idea of medical records being stored in filing cabinets in the back room at your local doctor's office may soon be a procedure of the past. The State of Mississippi is looking to store all health records electronically.

Kevin Gray said, "The state was recently awarded $10.3 million to put together an infrastructure for a statewide exchange of medical information between providers to help reduce cost and increase quality of healthcare to Mississippi."

Kevin Gray works for the State of Mississippi in the Information Technology Service Department. He said if personal health information is compiled into an electronic database it will be safe and secure.

"These electronic records going back and forth will fall under the same procedures and protocol, as paper record will in other words no one will be able to get in there and view their records," Gray said.

Dale Emerson represents Hielix, a company that supports the electronic database plan. He said not only will this help to decrease medical errors it will save thousands of dollars.

Emerson said, "It will save insurance companies money, so you will end up with lower premiums. Everybody in the supply chain has the opportunity to save money. We're working with one primary care physician right now that will save about $30,000 a year in billing service money."    

Gray said a traveling team is currently holding public meetings throughout the state not only to educate people but to get their input on how they think the system should work.

"We're not exactly sure of the government structure that's part of the environmental scan," Gray said. "How do you think it should be set up? But we're leaning more towards a public, private entity with a governing body."

Right now the team is still working on an operational plan to determine policies and procedures.

Gray said this idea came from the pilot program here on the coast called the Mississippi Coastal Health Information Exchange.

This program started after Katrina after thousands of medical records were destroyed. He said the state is still in the beginning stages of the plan for electronic health records.

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