President Obama wants to computerize the nation's health care records in the next five years. It's all part of his plan to reform health care. Obama says the $19 billion investment to move medical providers to an electronic records system is needed to modernize the industry.
The president has said it's a move that will save lives and dollars, but the transition is neither cheap nor quick.
The days of reading x–rays over panels of lights are now history. Doctors can check x–rays on their computers.
Debbie Riggle with Community Hospital says, "We have physicians who can see results of tests at home or where ever they may be, in the office." The transition from paper to electronic medical records or EMR's is an ongoing process. Riggle says, "We see ourselves within the next year or two being able to be completely paperless."
With the days of excessive paperwork coming to a close files that took up rooms of space can now fit on something as small as a thumb drive.
Karen Mayes with Family Health West says, "It’s not cheap but it has to be done." Mayes says it will benefit them in the long, but its something that's hard on the budget right now. "Its either you do it now and pay now or you don't do it and you pay later," says Mayes.
Mayes says stimulus dollars won't help them as much as others but it will trickle down a little at a time. "Because it's a mandate from the federal government you don't have an option, you have to comply," says Mayes.
While EMR’s will help with accuracy and efficiency its still not known exactly how each health care provider will be able to share information with each other.
"That's one of the reasons we as a whole health care network haven't moved as quickly, we want to be certain that that data remains secure and accurate," says Riggle.
Currently many providers in the valley use the quality health network as a repository for information, that way physicians can easily access patient’s information.