August 16, 2010 – Today’s fragmented and distributed health care universe has created a situation in which electronic medical records (EMRs) must increasingly draw on information from the multiple health care institutions–clinics, hospitals, and specialists–where people receive care. Accessing that information is the problem.

Giving physicians access to the right information at the right time could dramatically streamline medical care. As reported in MIT’s Technology Review, an estimated $77.8 billion, or about 5 percent of health-care costs, could be saved each year in the U.S. if a fully interoperable record-sharing system were in place. Their article, “Connecting Electronic Medical Records” reviews a program that a team from Massachusetts General Hospital developed called Queriable Patient Inference Dossier. The program combines a search engine with a programming system to automatically pull data from various EMRs and databases and process the information. While this may sound simple, it’s actually a major improvement for doctors, as most EMRs have little to no built-in search capabilities. Just imagine the World Wide Web with no Google.

Melody K. Smith

Sponsored by Data Harmony, a unit of Access Innovations, the world leader in indexing and making content findable.