Providing quality healthcare is one of the greatest challenges faced by the government today. With the public health department relying on local hospitals to provide information on various diseases like influenza, asthma, diabetes, and cholera etc, and due to the sheer effort involved with locating such information, the process was highly cumbersome and time consuming.
However, with the emergence of electronic medical records (EMR) the healthcare industry has witnessed significant benefits. As a result of continuous retrieval of information from various hospitals and medical facilities, the health departments are actively trying to resolve major health related issues. The use of EMRs has increased significantly over time. According to an official of the health information technology department, more than one-third of the nations acute care hospitals and 40 percent of primary care doctors are now using EMRs.
In Massachusetts, the information gathered from these medical records is being used to avert possible hepatitis infections. As much as 100,000 electronic reports are submitted by labs to the state health department annually, out of which almost 1500 cases are reported for follow ups. This is a clear reflection of a considerable advantage of data mining techniques in an EMR.
’You can see it happen in real time and zero in on the cause faster,’ said David A. Ross, Director of the Public Health Informatics Institute.
In order to facilitate the health departments, more than 150 health information exchanges are being set up across the country. These constantly receive relevant electronic health information from various healthcare agencies, care units, and hospitals. In New York City, the health officials started using medical records six years ago and it is because of this facility that the city health departments have been able to comparatively analyze smoking rates and disease infections across various regions.
This technological advancement is helping the health care departments to not only acquire information sooner, but also to resolve the problems in a more efficient manner.