Department of Health Implements Statewide Electronic Medical Records
(Santa Fe) - Health Secretary Dr. Alfredo Vigil announced today that the New Mexico Department of Health has implemented electronic medical records in all of its 49 public health offices that provide clinical services across the state. The effort is a part of Governor Bill Richardson's telehealth and health information initiatives. Since September, public health professionals have cared for 19,680 unduplicated patients and logged 120,524 procedures with this new technology.
"New Mexico is well on its way to having providers in both the public and private sector using this rapidly emerging technology," said Governor Richardson. "By advancing this important strategy, the Department of Health is putting new tools in the hands of our providers across the state and enabling the sharing of clinical data for better patient care."
Electronic medical records will allow medical providers to spend less time documenting and more time seeing patients. The records will also improve the quality of patient care and allow the Department's public health staff to analyze and tailor services to match the needs of patients.
"This is an important step toward improving accuracy and safety of patient care," Dr. Vigil said. "We should serve as a role model in furthering the Governor's goal of creating an electronic medical record system in New Mexico."
Dr. Winona Stoltzfus, regional health officer for the Department of Health in Roswell, said electronic medical records have advantages for clients and the staff in public health offices.
"The system is very easy to use and once we get through the transition from the old system we decrease the wait times for appointments for our clients," Dr. Stoltzfus said. "Another plus is better continuity of care in our health offices around the state. If we have a patient at the Roswell Public Health Office who needs services in Las Cruces we now have immediate access to their medical records."
The project for public health offices cost $1.3 million. The Department of Health received $750,000 in 2005 to implement electronic medical records in its public health offices. The Department has also received about $900,000 for a matching grant program to help private practices cover the costs of starting electronic medical records systems. So far, 122 New Mexico physicians in 36 communities are in the process of establishing electronic medical records in their practices.
Dr. Dan Derksen, president of New Mexico Medical Society, said the New Mexico Medical Society is firmly behind the adoption and use of electronic medical records (EMR).
“We backed EMR bills in the last session of the legislature and will continue to do so,” Dr. Derksen said. “We feel electronic medical records are an essential ingredient in improving the quality and efficiency of the delivery of medical care.”
According to a U.S. Health and Human Services Department national survey, among practices that used electronic medical records, 82 percent said they improve the quality of clinical decisions, 85 percent said they help improve the delivery of preventative care and 86 percent said they improve the delivery of preventative care.