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Electronic Health Records

The passage of the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) in 1996 spurred further federal regulation1 mandating electronic medical record keeping in an effort to standardize insurance claims, make medical records more portable, and eliminate medical errors. Electronic health records (EHR) were expected to facilitate the availability of test and diagnostic information, reduce space requirements and transcription costs, and ideally increase the number of patients served each day. Charged with protecting the health, safety, and wellbeing of Oregon citizens, the Oregon Medical Board shares in these goals.

To the extent that EHR and “meaningful use”2 has become the standard of care, it is the responsibility of the Medical Board to ensure that the standard of care is met and to assist licensees wherever possible. The Board recognizes that licensees will need to hone computer skills, become proficient in billing and coding, and in some cases utilize voice recognition software in order to generate EHR. As with other areas in the evolving field of health care, it will be incumbent on providers to build these skill sets and adapt to the new standard.

EHR has the potential to improve health care quality and patient satisfaction. However, the Board also understands that the documentation can seem limitless, and the patient care provider, the most expensive and time stressed link in health care, may become subject to the role of data entry.  

In order to not interfere with the establishment of therapeutic and compassionate communication between provider and patient, it is imperative that software developers, health care organizations, and providers work to optimize EHR as a tool for providing efficient, patient-centered care while minimizing interference in traditional provider-patient interaction.

As electronic health records progress, the Oregon Medical Board is mindful of the need to balance the goals of health care efficiency, safety, and portability with those of an informative and readable record that can be created without undue complexity or burden on the increasingly stressed healthcare professionals.

– Adopted August 6, 2015

1. The Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH) of 2009.