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DHS news release

Nov. 6, 2007

Contact: Jim Sellers 503-945-5738
Program contact: Jean Phillips 503-945-5769

State receives $5.5 million to improve medical care for 400,000 Oregonians

Oregon has received a two-year, $5.5 million federal grant to create a secure online database of health records that will improve health care and reduce unnecessary costs for the state's more than 400,000 Medicaid beneficiaries.

The Medicaid "health records bank" will provide access to medical information for the state Medicaid office and its physician, hospital, pharmacy and other medical partners to help them eliminate duplication and reduce errors.

"This grant will allow the state to take a giant step toward Governor Kulongoski's goal of having a secure statewide system of electronic health records for providers and patients," said Jim Edge, state Medicaid director in the Oregon Department of Human Services. "It will give Medicaid patients access to health records for the first time, give medical providers the best information available and help ensure public dollars are spent on highest-quality health care."

Edge said the health record bank should be operational by autumn 2009. The state is recruiting for a project manager, he said, and interested Oregonians will be invited to attend public meetings about the online system as planning progresses.

By giving medical providers access to patient records, Edge said, the database will eliminate or reduce duplicative and unnecessary tests; help ensure prescriptions are not written that are duplicative or that produce negative interactions; and reduce medical errors resulting from incomplete information.

Before ordering tests, he said, a physician could check a patient's online medical record to learn whether another doctor had recently done the tests. A doctor could check a new patient's medical record before prescribing a medication or a pharmacist could ensure the patient wasn't already taking a prescription drug that would result in a negative interaction with another drug about to be dispensed.

Oregon is among a number of states to receive federal dollars to create health record banks.

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