Bill Would Set Up NV Electronic Health Records

By: AP Email
By: AP Email

CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) - Nevada's federal stimulus-funded quest
to switch to paperless health care records continues with a bill to
authorize the project.

The Senate Health and Human Services Committee on Thursday
combed through SB43, a bill creating a structure to implement a
$6.1 million electronic health records grant from the American
Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

Electronic health care records, a priority of President Barack
Obama's administration, would allow doctors and hospitals to easily
share records rather than storing large archives of paper
documents. Officials say the digital format will allow electronic
prescriptions, reduce human error arising from transferring the
records or illegible handwriting, and reduce potentially costly and
harmful duplication of tests.

"You're going to be improving care just by virtue of having all
the information in front of you," said Nevada Health Information
Technology Project Manager Lynn O'Mara.

Transferring medical records to an electronic format also
promises job creation, O'Mara said. Nevada will need about 5,500
health information technology professionals of various education
levels over the next three to five years. O'Mara estimates the
state has about one-third of the work force it needs for the
demand.

A pilot program offering health care records certification is
under way at the College of Southern Nevada, and state officials
hope to expand the program to other community colleges, O'Mara
said.

The bill authorizes the program director to set security
standards for the electronic records, but privacy concerns arose at
the Thursday hearing.

"What kind of misery would be created in a person's life
because information was misused, indicated they had had an
abortion, AIDS, STDs, a child out of wedlock, mental health
issues?" wrote Janine Hansen of the Nevada Families Eagle Forum.

Rebecca Gasca, lobbyist for the American Civil Liberties Union
of Nevada, recommended making the electronic records an opt-in
system, in which patients are not enrolled until they say they want
to be. She also suggested segmenting the system, so sensitive
medical records could be kept private from certain medical
personnel.

Senators sent SB43 to a subcommittee, which will work further on
the bill.


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