The CEO of an Iowa company is leading a group seeking to establish common nationwide standards for electronic medical records.
Don Schoen, CEO of MediNotes in West Des Moines, has just been elected co-chairman of the Electronic Health Record Vendors Association. The association was formed just over two years ago by a number of companies who were concerned about the new federal process for certifying health records. “We wanted to make sure that if we ‘voluntarily’ were going to go through a process, that the process was one where we at least had some input,” Schoen says.
The federal government has declared that by 2014, every American’s health records should be electronically accessible. Schoen’s association is working to encourage more hospitals, doctors and medical specialists’ offices to convert to electronic records that are uniform throughout the industry. Two years ago, the association had 21 companies as members. Today, there are 43 companies which have installed about 95 percent of all the electronic medical records systems in the United States. “There is quite a bit of commonality of what a system can do and even greater than that, there has been a very congenial workmanship effort between companies,” Schoen says.
The medical record industry is “fairly young,” and according to Schoen only 24 percent of the nation’s doctors use electronic medical records. “We started from ground zero and now are being asked to serve on a number of different association boards and government boards or at least advise in terms of the background and the experience that the vendors have,” Schoen says. “Our relationship with clients helps us to have a pretty good view of what the over-all general market is looking for.”
MediNotes, the company Schoen leads, was established a decade ago and caters to doctor’s offices. About 4000 doctor’s offices in all 50 states, Guam, Puerto Rico and Canada have purchased MediNotes services. “We really focus on the very small practice,” Schoen says. “About 70 percent of all (doctor’s) practices in the United States are between one and 10 doctors.” About 15,000 doctors use MediNotes products.
Most Americans today carry a drivers license which allows cops to check the person’s driving record in all 50 states. Schoen cannot predict when Americans will be able to carry to carry a medical I.D. card loaded with all their health information, but he says a lot of the health care red tape you face today is superfluous. “When you go into a doctor’s office today you have to fill out the same information and it’s like you’re starting from ground zero,” Schoen says. “That type of situation shouldn’t be occuring.”
Schoen says his industry opposes any attempt by the federal government to establish the standards for a national medical I.D. card. According to him, the industry’s working to establish it’s own nationwide standard. Schoen says his Electronic Health Records Vendors Association is drawing up a “road map” for achieving that national standard, and will meet with 61 other companies in February to discuss the project. “What we’re looking for is a commonality so that there’s a sharing of information between systems and it’s seamless so that whether you’re in a doctor’s office, whether you’re in the hospital, whether you’re in an emergency room — that information can get to a software product and be able to be read and analyzed by doctors efficiently,” Schoen says.