Electric Hospital Records Up and Running 

It has taken five years, but now the nation’s largest statewide electronic health exchange system is up and running in Maine.Healthinfonet recently rolled out to fifteen hospitals with more than 2,000 medical providers.The goal is to reduce medical errors and make better, more informed, treatment decisions that will save lives and money. “Gives us consent to put your name into Healthinfonet.”As the Maine network, dubbed Healthinfonet, expands services across the state, an estimated 50-million per year in healthcare costs is expected to be saved as doctors order fewer unnecessary and duplicative tests, procedures, and prescriptionsThose using the system say it should save time too. “If they’re not at a hospital affiliated with this one, we have to do it manually, make a phone call, send for records, photocopying or faxing and we may not get the info on time.”Doctor Mike Palumbo offers this scenario: “Someone could come in on an ambulance that collapsed on the street and was unable to give me their information and we could get their name from their i.d. And I could get on the system and obtain their medical info in the absence of them being able to give me their history and yes, I may be able to make a decision that could save their life.”In an effort to protect privacy, only certain data will be part of Healthinfonet, including prescriptions, lab results, x-rays, and medical problems.Substance abuse, mental health, and HIV test results are not put into the system. “Healthinfonet has gone through rigorous security setups to make sure this information is going to be safe and confidential.”To join, patients do nothing, but if you don’t wish to have your medical information shared, you can opt out. “You have the right as a Maine citizen to say no, I don’t want to take part in this.”While Healthinfonet is a nonprofit, it will cost nearly $6,000,000 each year to operate.Despite a budget shortfall, the state has included nearly $2,000,000 in the upcoming 2010-2011 budget, matching federal funds are expected to keep the program afloat as well.For more information on healthinfonet log onto