January 22nd, 2007 07:30 EST
VA’s Electronic Patient Records Are a Model to Industry
WASHINGTON -- Computerized patient records, like the system pioneered at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) in the 1990s and now covering all of VA’s 7.6 million enrolled patients, can improve the quality of care, save lives and conserve important health care dollars, said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Jim Nicholson.
“A doctor, nurse or other health care provider can use the VA system to update a patient’s history, place orders, review tests and enter new data from a visit or a procedure,” Nicholson said. “All of this information is available wherever patients are seen -- in acute settings, clinics, exam rooms, nursing stations and offices.”
Nicholson, who oversees the nation’s largest integrated health care system, spoke Friday in Houston at a conference sponsored by Dell Inc. on “Advancing E-Health.” He also officiated at the opening of a new state-of-the-art surgical suite at the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center in Houston.
Based largely upon VA’s success, President Bush announced a plan in 2004 to make electronic health records the norm for most Americans within 10 years.
“My Department knows that the President’s initiative is one that will save lives and revolutionize the quality, safety and effectiveness of health care across American, because it has done so at VA,” Nicholson continued. “And the amazing thing is that, with electronic health records, better quality care actually costs less.”
Between 17 percent and 49 percent of all laboratory tests in the private sector are needlessly performed because of missing paperwork. One of every five medication doses in typical private-sector hospitals and skilled nursing homes is given in error, the VA Secretary noted, with 7 percent of those errors potentially life-threatening.
“With VA’s electronic health records and other computerized systems, we have almost eliminated prescription errors and the need to duplicate lab tests,” Nicholson added.
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