OU-Tulsa, IBM Work Toward Electronic Records

Monday, April 6th 2009, 12:46 pm
By: News On 6

By Emory Bryan, The News On 6

TULSA, OK -- The University of Oklahoma School of Community Medicine plans to coordinate the use of electronic medical records in Tulsa.  The school wants more doctors to take advantage of technology to help provide better care.

The OU School of Community Medicine, near 41st and Yale, still has thousands of pages of paper medical records, but they're stored in the basement because they're hardly ever needed.  Instead, physicians create and access records with computers where the information is just a click away.

Dr. David Kendrick compares it to the change from a typewriter to word processor.

"And, it's a very similar leap in medical records to go from a paper system to an electronic system," said Dr. David Kendrick with OU School of Community Medicine.

Monday, OU and IBM announced plans to build a storage system that can hold medical records for every person treated in Tulsa.  Doctors could access patient records, everything from a history to new lab results, through the IBM network.

"And so, if you went to a primary care physician and they don't have all the information about you, then they may make other decisions," said IBM's Sherie Giles.

The paper record system is no more secure and actually costs more than electronic records, according to research by OU.  Having all the records in one place would allow doctors to make strides toward more preventive care.

"The patient centered medical home begins to treat us just like our veterinarians treat our dogs, they remind us when it comes time to treat us for heartworms or have other things taken care of," said Dr. Daniel Duffy with OU School of Community Medicine.

Dr. Kendrick believes the electronic system will reduce mistakes and give physicians and patients more information.

"What we're doing here in Tulsa is a pilot to be scaled to the country and possibly the world, we're demonstrating it here," said Dr. David Kendrick.

The electronic system could actually improve medical privacy because a record is created anytime someone uses the system.

IBM and OU are jointly paying for the launch of the system, which will take years, but they're hoping to get the money back from the federal stimulus package, which has mandates for doctors to start using this kind of record keeping.