- College of Medicine Regional Extension Center
More and more Central Florida doctors are scrapping the use of bulky paper patient files for more efficient electronic records that help reduce costs and increase patient safety. Gone are the days of waiting for faxes or physically having to carry your patient files to other doctors’ offices. But electronic records are not only about cost savings; the ability to quickly share information with physicians can be life-saving.
Raj Desai, medical practice administrator for Integrated Family Medical Center in Lady Lake, said he saw how effective the new technology can be when one of the patients suffered a stroke while out of town. “His doctor called us from Cleveland and I was able to send him test results and records electronically within two minutes, while the patient was still having a stroke,” said Desai.
This kind of information sharing is time-critical when treatment decisions have to be made quickly and accurately. Desai said electronic records enable physicians to better coordinate care even if the patient sees several specialists, and it’s particularly helpful for Florida’s snowbirds who see physicians in other states for part of the year.
In less than a year since implementing electronic health records for his one-physician practice, Desai said he’s seen the quality of patient care increase, because his staff is freed up to make follow up calls and check in with patients instead of being mired in paperwork.
More than 2,200 Central Florida physicians have switched to using electronic health record systems through the help of the University of Central Florida College of Medicine’s Regional Extension Center (REC), which was created to help providers make that transition to a paperless record system.
Recently, the UCF REC met two major federal milestones for electronic health record use; 100 percent of its 1,363 targeted providers implemented an electronic health records system, demonstrated the effective use of e-prescribing and the generation of quality reports. In addition, 50 percent of the 1,363 reached Stage 1 Meaningful Use by attestation, allowing them to receive federal Medicare and Medicaid incentives ranging from $18,000 to $21,250 in the first year.
“It’s so exciting to have an opportunity to lead and to contribute to this movement that’s going on in health information technology and even more so to see the impact it’s having on patient care,” said Josue Rodas, executive director of the UCF REC.
By 2014 all medical practitioners must transition to electronic health records or face financial penalties. Federal incentives dollars are available to help physicians make that transition. As of April 30, 2013, the UCF center had helped bring almost $21 million in incentive payments to healthcare providers across Central Florida.
The UCF Regional Extension Center is one of 62 RECs established nationwide to help primary care providers adopt and implement and reach meaningful use of electronic health records. It serves seven Central Florida counties including Brevard, Lake, Orange, Osceola, Polk, Seminole and Volusia counties.
The center is expanding its services to specialists and is also partnering with the state to help Central Florida dentists use electronic records to improve patient care in medically underserved areas. For more information on electronic records and the Regional Extension Center’s services, please visit ucf-rec.org.