As we have reported, a $50 million electronic health records (EHR) pilot project has been in development since last spring for three different regions of Massachusetts. Now the program is set to get rolling in February, the Boston Business Journal has reported. The project aims to both decrease hospital costs and medical errors.
The pilot project received its initial funding through a $50 million grant from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts but has been coordinated through a collective of 33 different players within the state's healthcare arena which has been formed into the nonprofit Massachusetts eHealth Collaborative.
Physicians (there are 450 in total) and the 150 nurses and medical assistants program must choose a vendor by the end of January. After this, software and training will be provided and physicians will be given portable computers. The second phase will see participating doctors communicate with hospitals electronically and also with other physicians if they so choose. The plan is for the Newburyport system to be fully operational by the end of this year, with the other systems around the state up and running by the start of 2007.
If the program is successful, it is very likely that development of plans for other communities or for perhaps a state-wide roll out will begin. This is the first large-scale demonstration in the country to test implementation of EHRs for use in patient care at a community level, with an eye on the national stage.