Iowa has been recognized by the federal government as a national leader for efforts to enhance the safety and quality of health care by embracing the use of health information technology.
Iowa e-Health is working to help Iowa’s health care providers, hospitals and pharmacies adopt and implement technologies that allow them to communicate securely and electronically, in real time. The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology is specifically recognizing the efforts in Iowa because:
- 95 percent of pharmacies in the state participate in e-prescribing. This means doctors have been electronically sending patients’ prescriptions directly to pharmacies, increasing the likelihood of medication compliance and reducing potential for errors due to handwriting, patients losing prescriptions, or incorrect manual entry into the pharmacy system.
- 663 health care providers and their office staff are enabled for electronic care summary exchange. This means that after a patient goes to see her cardiologist, for example, her primary care physician can electronically receive a care summary with details from the appointment. This care summary helps update the patient’s file and medical history and creates a complete view of her information for providers, thus ensuring better care coordination.
“We’re proud of the work being done to improve care of people throughout the state and are thrilled the effort is receiving national recognition,” said Dr. Mariannette Miller-Meeks, Director of the Iowa Department of Public Health. “Good communication among everyone involved in keeping a person healthy is vital to ensure good outcomes. Current technologies make it easy and safe for doctors, nurses, pharmacists and others to communicate with each other on their patients’ behalf. It results in fewer errors and means health care providers and their staff can spend more time actually talking with their patients. That’s what we’re working toward.”
Despite the near-universal use of electronic and automated processes across many industries -including banking, shopping, communication, news, and entertainment - America’s medical system has remained stuck in the past, with doctors, pharmacies and hospitals often relying upon paper records. As a result, the different health care providers who treat a single patient (primary care physician, cardiologist, and dermatologist, for example) rarely have access to the same medical history, which makes diagnoses and developing treatment plans for that patient more difficult. Use of paper records can also undermine good coordination of care among a patient and all of his/her care providers since health care officials have to copy and fax or mail needed information to each other.
The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, which has led the process of establishing the essential building blocks to support this secure exchange of health information, is recognizing the achievements of 22 of 56 U.S. states and territories participating in this effort.