CHARLESTON, W.Va. - One thousand primary care providers have adopted a certified electronic health record system as part of a grant from a federal initiative aimed at improving medical care across the United States.
With the help of the West Virginia Regional Health Information Technology Extension Center, those providers have reached varying levels of progress with the addition of electronic medical records.
"There are currently 1,000 live and using the electronic health records, and their progress is all over the map. Some were looking into what they wanted to use, while others had systems in place but were working toward meaningful use," said Dwayne Edwards, director of the WVHRITEC, which has been working toward this goal for three years.
Meaningful use is the set of standards that administers electronic health records usage and allows eligible providers and hospitals to earn incentive payments by meeting specific criteria. It determines if primary care providers are using the electronic system efficiently. More than 500 of those doctors have reached meaningful use, according to Edwards.
"Primary care physicians and associated health workers are the first point of contact with health care for most West Virginians. The adoption and use of electronic health records, together with a secure means of exchanging important health information, will make important health information available to patients and health care providers to facilitate better management of health in a proactive fashion," Edwards said.
"A large number of the providers with EHRs practice in rural or community-based settings. They are usually in small practices of less than 10 providers and represent a significant part of the state's primary care infrastructure and the frontline of many of our health promotion efforts."
Dr. Bowden, who started Charleston Internal Medicine in 2002, has been using electronic records for more than 10 years ago and is a member of the WVRHITEC.
"The process is a daunting process. There are many, many health record systems out there. The WVRHITEC is a resource for any questions we have on new information out there on electronic medical records. They keep up to date on all the different systems," Bowden said.
Edwards said that while the program they're focusing on aims to help 1,000 primary care providers, he said that more are using electronic health records across the state, and they are currently working with more than 1,500. The additional 500 are receiving services, but they are not subsidized as part of the grant for the program.
The WVRHITEC provides counseling in electronic health record system selection, workflow changes, privacy and security guidance, implementation oversight and meaningful use requirement education.
"The conversion to secure, protected electronic health record systems will promote improved health outcomes and encourage better coordination of care among doctors, hospitals and labs. This also will increase efficiencies and reduce costs associated with the management of costly chronic conditions," Edwards said.
The WVRHITEC is a federally funded project under the West Virginia Health Improvement Institute. It is a collaboration of several state organizations focused on improving health care quality and access.
For more information, visit www.wvrhitec.org.
Contact writer Candace Nelson at Candace.Nel...@dailymail. com or 304-348-5148. Follow her at www.twitter.com/Candace07