If you ever wondered what difference a system of electronic medical records might make in everyday care, stop at Chicago's Mount Sinai Hospital as Vice President Joe Biden did yesterday.
Scott Olson/Getty Images
Click here for $1.2 billion in aid for computerized records.
Click here for $1.2 billion in aid for computerized records. Scott Olson/Getty Images
A trauma nurse at the hospital told Biden (pictured) she and the doctors there commonly check patients for scars to piece together medical histories because accessing records quickly is difficult or impossible, the Chicago Tribune reports.
A scar might tell them the patient has had an appendectomy. But nobody thinks this is right way to run a hospital, and the nurse welcomed the $1.2 billion in federal funds for modernizing record keeping that Biden said will become available in 2010. "We become people who put puzzles together," she said. "We need this to communicate."
About half the grant money will go toward starting regional extension services (about 70 in all) to help hospital and doctors move electronic record keeping. Sounds a little like those offices that help farmers deal with pests.
The other chunk of the money will support the creation of digital networks for sharing information among doctors and hospitals.
All the cash comes from the $787 billion economic stimulus package that President Obama signed in February.