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Robert Trigaux

'Paperfree' Tampa: Digital healthcare coming

16

March

Wake up and good morning. Paperfree Tampa? No it's not another clean-up-the-streets beautification initiative. This morning, we'll hear officially hear that Mayor Pam Iorio, representatives in Congress and health-care professionals will launch a new effort to make health records completely paper-free.

That means digitizing every prescription and patient history written not only in the 10-county area surrounding Tampa and St. Petersburg, but also, eventually, in the rest of the country, says a preview piece in Time magazine. Over the next two years, Tampa's leaders plan to train every one of the 8,000 physicians in the area in electronic prescribing, with the goal of having at least 60 percent of all eligible prescriptions by Tampa Bay doctors written on a computer instead of a prescription pad, says Time.

Paperless medical records, of course, is one of the Obama administration's big goals, both as a healthcare efficiency and cost-cutting tool but also as a potentially vast improvement in healthcare quality.

You can watch today's community "e-health" initiative of U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor with USF Health at this Web site over your computer.

The Paperfree Tampa initiative aims to change completely the way doctors prescribe and practice medicine, by digitizing the entire medical record-keeping process, from patient charts to lab reports and test results.

It's an uphill task. I covered a 2005 news conference when Tampa's University Community Health, a four-hospital company, said it would open Florida's first all-digital heart hospital. UCH's Pepin Heart Hospital was under construction at the time on Tampa's East Fletcher Avenue, and was designed to feature a comprehensive digital and "nearly" paperless system based on GE Healthcare cardiovascular equipment, online image system and archives, and a patient data base. Its digital success, however that may be measured, has not served as a template for other hospitals around here to follow suit. At least not yet.

-- Robert Trigaux, Times Business Columnist

[Last modified: Tuesday, June 1, 2010 12:24pm]

    

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