The recent government approval of the first electronic health record (EHR) products keeps the United States on track for its goal of having EHRs for all Americans by 2014. The nonprofit Certification Commission for Healthcare Information Technology (CCHIT) has certified 20 EHR products. These products must allow physicians to enter an order for an electronic prescription and record a laboratory result, according to the group.
Mark Leavitt, chairman of CCHIT, said that the products will have to be able to send the data to a pharmacy and receive a lab result by next year. Currently, hospitals or clinics that use EHRs mainly cannot share data outside their own systems. The physicians who purchase certified products face less chance that these products will not work with others or will quickly become obsolete, Leavitt added.
EHRsand the ability to share patient data across different networkswould enhance care, reduce medical errors, and lower costs, according to Health and Human Services Secretary Michael Leavitt (no relation to Mark Leavitt). He called the drive for adoption of health care technology the "most important thing happening in health care."