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OU-HCOM aids primary care providers in switch to electronic medical records

(ATHENS, Ohio – Aug. 26, 2013)The Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine (OU-HCOM) led the state in becoming the first region to meet a goal of implementing the use of electronic health records by medical providers in Ohio.

Under the guidance and assistance of the college, more than 500 primary care providers in southeastern Ohio are fully utilizing electronic health record systems. As a result, those healthcare providers may now receive federal incentive payments through Medicare and Medicaid for using technology in ways that are meaningful to patients and staff.

During a recent visit to the college, Ted Wymyslo, M.D., director of the Ohio Department of Health, congratulated the region for being first in signing up its goal of primary care providers. “I was of proud of you; you put it out there and got it done when no one thought this was going to happen. This is a fertile environment for change.”

With the advent of the HITECH Act of 2009, states began receiving grant funding to assist family doctors, internists, pediatricians, obstetricians/gynecologists with the adoption of electronic health record systems and to create technology infrastructures to exchange health information across health systems.

Ohio received $43.8 million to assist 6,000 physicians with EHR systems as well as to create a statewide health information exchange. Today, the Ohio Health Information Partnership exceeded the 6,000-physician goal for signups and created the technological infrastructure to exchange across health systems, now known as CliniSync. Close to 100 hospitals across the state now are contracted to connect to the network.

Kathy Jefford, regional extension center director for OU-HCOM’s Office of Medical informatics and serving as secretary of the Appalachian Health Information Exchange (AHIE) board, is the first of seven regional directors in the state to assist 100 percent of her physicians priority primary care providers in going live with electronic health record systems.

Initially charged with signing up 404 primary care providers, including physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants and midwives in the specialties of family medicine, internal medicine, obstetrics and gynecology, and pediatrics and whom have prescription authority, Jefford was the first in the state to do so. Since then, she was assigned 100 more providers, with all 504 spread over 19 Ohio Appalachian counties now utilizing electronic health record systems, the first region to meet that goal.

OU-HCOM received more than $2.2 million of the $26.8 million provided to the Ohio regional extension centers from HITECH.

HITECH’s plan of a centralized system of medical records is to improve healthcare quality, lower costs, and save lives. An integrated medical records system should allow primary care physicians the ability to monitor overall patient care including referrals to other health care specialists or physicians, home health care and drug prescribing.
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Last updated: 01/28/2016