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Electronic health record could improve patient care

Is this the same pain medication I took five years ago? If it is, it gives me an upset stomach.

My husband didn't feel well when he was on that cholesterol pill. Or was it the blood pressure medicine that affected him?

I know our former dentist said something about latex-sensitivity. Or did she say latex-allergy?

I had bitewing X-rays two years ago. No. I think it was three years ago.

It's not always easy to remember every aspect of your medical history. Ten years from now you may not have to. An electronic health record will do it for you.

A national effort to computerize health records was emphasized in President George Bush's Jan. 20, 2004, State of the Union Address.

"By computerizing health records, we can avoid dangerous medical mistakes, reduce costs and improve care," he said.

The goal is for all patient records to be available to all health care providers electronically, virtually anywhere in the country, through an interoperable system. These records could then be accessed and added to by all of a patient's health practitioners, with patient authorization.

Some medical and dental experts closely following the development of what is now called the National Health Information Network say such electronic records will give physicians, dentists and all health care providers greater control of patient outcomes.

"Such information will make it easier to access relevant patient information and improve clinical decision-making," explained Dr. Titus Schleyer, associate professor and director, Center for Dental Informatics, University of Pittsburgh School of Dental Medicine. "This is an initiative to help establish a national electronic information network for health care that serves patients, providers and the public better than our current system."

Please contact the ADA if you have questions about this article.

©2010 American Dental Association. All rights reserved. Reproduction or republication is strictly prohibited without the prior written permission from the American Dental Association.

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