Health Watch

Community Regional Medical Center is going paperless

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Major changes are underway in a crowded room at Community Regional Medical Center. Employees call it, "The Command Center." More than 5000 doctors and nurses will use the room to train on a new, electronic, health records system.

Dr. Hagop Afarian says scrapping paper ensures more reliable medical records. The Fresno doctor says, "I'll have your information at my fingertips". He adds, "Certain patients don't know what medications they may be taking or what their past medical history is. They may know, they may have had a surgery but not know who did the surgery, when or what the surgery is for".

Dr. Afarian thinks the new system will also reduce wait times for patients. Ashley Davis recently gave birth. She's one of the first patients here whose entire birth story is now electronic. Davis says she's pleased with the new changes.

Doctors say privacy for patients like Davis will not be compromised. They say only employees will have access to the information. No marketers can access the data. A staff of about 25 people will monitor employees logging into the system. If a user reads a patient's chart without permission, that person is immediately flagged.

Dr. John Capitman is a health policy expert at Fresno State. Capitman says patient privacy is crucial. He does not think electronic medical records will increase the risk of information being lost or information being divulged inappropriately.

The electronic overhaul is costing Community Medical Centers more than 50 million dollars.

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