Oklahoma House Bill Would Hasten Uniformity Electronic Medical Records

Article excerpt

The move toward electronic medical records is inevitable, both those who support House Bill 2805 and those who oppose the measure agree. But state Rep. Mike Brown, D-Tahlequah, faced stiff opposition in committee on Monday, from those who think HB 2805 may not be the best way to usher Oklahoma into the future.

HB 2805, which narrowly passed the committee by one vote, would create a new law, the Oklahoma Health Records Efficiency Act. The measure would direct the state Department of Health to adopt a standardized health records system with statewide capabilities by July 2009.

Individual hospitals and health care systems in Oklahoma have already invested millions of dollars in developing their own electronic record-keeping systems.

Brown said the state needs to implement a statewide system to allow providers to communicate with one another, an interface that can compile the information from each hospital or facility into one system.

Such a system could reduce duplication of effort and medical errors, saving millions of dollars, said state Sen. Jim Wilson, D- Tahlequah, who also endorses the idea of a statewide system for electronic records.

Brown would like to see the state adopt a system that is already in place in his district. SMRTNET, the secure medical records transfer network, has been up and running for six months. A coalition of health care entities in the Tahlequah area that has been working to improve medical records and coordination between providers since a hepatitis outbreak in the 1970s, said Brown. The group collected input from about 100 providers to make the SMRTNET system a reality.

The coalition includes Tahlequah City Hospital, the Cherokee Nation, the state Department of Health and Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, Hastings Indian Medical Center in Tahlequah, the N. …