Local clinic giving patients "digital" experience

By Britney Glaser - bio | email

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - The $787 billion economic stimulus package passed by Congress earlier this year has $19 billion earmarked for health records to go digital. It's a slow process for many clinics and hospitals across the country, in fact, less than two percent have gotten rid of the paper. In this Healthcast, we go inside one Lake Charles clinic that is now giving patients a completely digital experience.

From walking in to signing in, it takes less than one minute for patients at the Center for Orthopaedics to be seated and ready to see a physician.  Dr. John Noble, Jr. says, "Established patients can simply come in and as soon as they swipe their license, they're checked in."

Center for Orthopaedics is the first health care practice in Louisiana and one of only a few nationwide to incorporate every aspect of the patient experience into a digital occurrence.  "Not only does it give us real time information," says Dr. Noble, "but it improves a patient's experience because we can actually spend more time with them and less time with mundane paperwork."

Dr. Noble says the move from paper records to electronic health records liberates the medical staff from the crush of paperwork. In 2005, President Bush said electronic records can help change medicine, save money and save lives. Between the Bush and now Obama administration, financial incentives have been offered to help clinics make the transition, but the change has been slow.  "We as an industry have fallen behind other industries because we haven't used digital technology like we could have," says Dr. Noble, "and it's been frustrating as a health care provider, not being able to get this technology fast enough."

By replacing stacks of manila folders with computerized medical records, misdiagnoses and physician errors can be minimized, while giving doctors instant access to potentially lifesaving information.

Each exam room inside Center for Orthopaedics is equipped with screens to view a patient's complete medical history, from x-rays to lab tests. Dr. Noble says streamlining their record system to digitized health care has allowed for more quality time with patients.

*The switch to digital records nationwide could potentially cut medical costs by20 percent in the next decade.

*If you want to learn more about how technology has changed the Center for Orthopaedics, click here.

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