By: Jeremy Alford
Because Gov. Bobby Jindals focus during the current legislative session is workforce development, one could easily miss his $18 million commitment to help physicians and rural hospitals switch to electronic medical records. The challenges associated with paper documents became particularly acute during the 2005 storm season when wind and floodwaters destroyed medical records that can mean the difference between life and death for seriously ill patients. Between disasters, antiquated recordkeeping can still prove disastrous. Studies show that as many as 100,000 Americans die every year from avoidable medical errors. Meanwhile, nurses spend hours filling out or chasing down paperwork when they could be providing care. The development of the Louisiana Health Information Exchange will provide a seamless flow of patient data from hospitals, insurance companies and physicians across the state to ensure the highest level of patient care, Jindal says. Despite being a priority at the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals for several years, fewer than 10 percent of hospitals nationwide have even begun to implement similar health-information technology, according to the American Journal of Health-System Pharmacy.