Health Team

Blue Cross backing shift to electronic medical records

Posted September 28, 2011

— North Carolina's largest health insurer is part of a $23 million effort to get hundreds of physicians statewide to produce patient records electronically instead of using paper files.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina and Chicago-based Allscripts, which creates and markets electronic health records, announced a partnership Wednesday to offer software, training and support to more than 750 physicians, including those who work in 39 free clinics across the state.

"It's meaningful when a family receives vital, faster, better care because vital records are available when doctors need them most wherever a patient might be," Blue Cross President and Chief Executive Brad Wilson said.

Wilson and Allscripts officials said that, when physicians, hospitals and other health care providers can share patient records electronically, quality of care is improved, errors were reduced and wasteful tests can be eliminated. All of that should reduce health care costs, leading to lower insurance premiums, they said.

“It’s not going to happen in 30 days, but we have to start or we will not finish," Wilson said. "The healthier our customers are – the healthier the North Carolina citizenry – the better of we’re all going to be."

Electronic medical records Program will replace patient files with electronic medical records

Shifting from paper to electronic records can cost as much as $15,000, and many physician practices don't have that much money available. An initiative dubbed the North Carolina Program to Advance Technology for Health, or NC-PATH, will pay all of the costs for the free clinics, including Urban Ministries Open Door Clinic in Raleigh, and will pick up 85 percent of the costs for the other physicians.

Blue Cross is investing $15 million and Allscripts is kicking in $8 million for the initiative.

Under the federal health care reform law, the government is offering subsidies of up to $44,000 over several years to physician practices that convert to electronic medical records.

“There is no patient who receives care just from an individual practice, let alone an individual physician," said Dr. Gary Greenberg, medical director of the Open Door Clinic. "The opportunity to encapsulate, transmit and share information with other operations that are trying to provide care to that same individual, so that each patient in each waiting room does not have to fill out questionnaires, is an opportunity that each of us would recognize is a step forward.”


This story is closed for comments.

Oldest First
View all
  • sammyg Sep 30, 2011

    I don't like having to pay to have access to my own darn medical records. How is this right?!!

  • mep Sep 29, 2011

    Electronic medical records are fine... just as long as you dont mind the idea that someday your records may end up being on public display when some hacker breaks in and steals them. Yes hackers break into even the most secure systems every day. A lot "safer" than breaking into a doctors office.... depends on how motivated they are. HIPAA will not stop them.

  • NeverSurrender Sep 29, 2011

    "Have you not heard of HIPAA? It is a federal law that protects health information, and it is taken VERY seriously in the healthcare field. There are major fines and even jail time as punishments."

    Presuming they choose to prosecute which is much rarer than you'd probably like to admit.

    The fact is that you can drive the USS Nimitz through the loopholes in the average HIPAA "privacy practices" boils down to "we'll keep your info private unless someone has the temerity to ask us for it or is willing to do social engineering to get it".

  • Arapaloosa Sep 29, 2011

    @andrewmarshallclay- Have you not heard of HIPAA? It is a federal law that protects health information, and it is taken VERY seriously in the healthcare field. There are major fines and even jail time as punishments.

  • andrewmarshallclay Sep 29, 2011

    The fact is that most states allow anyone who has access to your social security number and DOB to access your health account with little penalty as long as you cant prove they profited from that information. Your employer, your nosy neighbor and your worst enemy can then use this information recklessly with little recourse. Trust family is living with the fear that an individual who dislikes us gained access to our health providers site and received these files. We must make accessing this information without permission a crime that is civilly and criminally punishable. The Wikileaks scenario is extreme, what if an angry ex gets their hands on your medical files and prescription list and decides to post it on Facebook or send out an anonymous letter to the neighborhood? This has implications for citizens who need medical care, not seeking it out in fear of being exposed . The government doesn't have the laws in place to protect those records now, why would anyone wa

  • delilahk2000 Sep 29, 2011


  • davidgnews Sep 28, 2011

    Let me guess on who's paying the $23 million. It won't be goats.