It appears that a tiny hamlet in northwest Massachusetts will be the first in the U.S. to offer a health information network covering an entire city. North Adams, MA, which has about 14,000 residents, should implement its EMR system next month. Officials are optimistic that sharing data will have a strongly positive effect in time, though over the short term, problems are already cropping up. Perhaps the most challenging problem for medical professionals has been that doctors' productivity has plummeted as they learn to use the system--with many seeing between 20 to 50 percent fewer patients. It's also proving tough to figure out how to work with existing paper records, with the process of typing and scanning in information proving costly and expensive.
Still, despite these issues, and the complexities of signing up patients in a legally appropriate way which protects their privacy, only one physician practice in the city has refused to participate. Meanwhile, two other Massachusetts cities, Brockton and Newburyport, should go live with something similar this summer, and a Boston metro project is in the works.
Find out more about the implementation:
- read this piece from The Boston Globe