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Note on Health Policy

The future of electronic medical records

One of the most important but less talked about components of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) pertains to electronic medical records (EMRs). The ACA developed slowly escalating requirements for EMRs. The first requirements were modest, such as having BMI or smoking status recorded on over half of the patients. Still, many EMR implementations were unable to meet these simple, basic requirements. The goal was to make EMRs clinically useful for assessing a population, which could be the panel of people seeing an individual provider, the population covered by a healthcare practice, or eventually being able to assess the health of an entire community. These three reports released today show the efforts in New York City to combine EMR reports from thousands of providers and compare their assessments of population health with NY HANES, a detailed, in person population assessment. In general the performance was reasonable, and will only improve as practices become more proficient at using EMRs. This would enable accurate, detailed, timely reports on the population health of any specific region, and would serve as an important guide in apportioning resources and in testing a variety of local community interventions.

See full text of reports one, two and three.

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