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Doc Talk: Electronic Health Record

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When we think of doctors, we often think of illness and medial procedures, not data. But data is a big part of their job. The days of shuffling through charges hand-writing notes are over. Like much of the rest of the world, hospitals are now keeping everything electronic.

"If you have a computer, if the electricity is turned on literally, you have access to the chart, and it’s not just you singular. It’s any number of people, multiple places, any time," said Holy Spirit Chief Medical Informatics Officer Dr. Richard Schreiber.

It's called the electronic health record. If you're wondering what it means in terms of patient privacy, doctors say you shouldn't worry. Informatics Officer Dr. Richard Schreiber wouldn't even allow CBS 21 to shoot footage of the program because of patient privacy.

Doctors at Holy Spirit started keeping things electronic back in 2007, but expanded to a new system earlier this year when the hospital merged with Geisinger.

Dr. Schreiber says making people's records accessible to all relevant doctors and nurses in the hospital system is a good thing.

"An iPad, the resolution for pictures is extraordinary and if somebody wants to see their X-ray, it’s truly a beautiful thing to say “Sure, here’s the X-ray. Let me show you. Let’s enlarge it. Let’s shrink it down.'”

In addition to doctor-patient access, Dr. Schreiber also points out the charts are now legible, which is a plus for those doctors with notoriously bad handwriting. It also lets doctors do research on larger populations.

"Let’s say I’m a doctor in the office and i take care of a lot of diabetic patients. I might want to know how well i’m controlling their diabetes. I can call up a report based on their lab values, their latest visit, maybe their immunizations," said Dr. Schreiber.

Dr. Schreiber says one of the biggest critiques of the electronic health record is that it takes too long to fill it out, but he says that's misdirected and that much of the lengthy paperwork stems from federal and state regulations that require detailed information.

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