Last week I mentioned the government shutdown and how it’s affecting the CDC’s workforce, resulting in the furlough of nearly 70% of their employees. Many of those workers were worried about there not being anyone responsible for keeping an eye on the spreading infections and foodborne illnesses as they continue to circulate. As I wrote that article I thought about raising the question about electronic health records (EHR). I wondered why if the new healthcare laws are pushing the use of EHRs to track infections, they aren’t stepping up right now. With the help of President Bush and President Obama, the government has put in place incentives and penalties for adopting a certified EHR by 2014. I’m sure there are many healthcare facilities that are still in the process of adopting these new requirements, but with only a few more months in this year, just how many are left? Wouldn’t that information be a big crutch right now at a time when the CDC is handicapped?
Even though I didn’t end up discussing EHRs, I was happy to read this article on Athenahealth. The provider of cloud-based services for electronic health records has stepped in to monitor diseases in wake of the government shutdown. According to the article the company’s network includes data from nearly 44,000 medical providers and 40 million patient records across the nation. It is great that during flu season, Athenahealth is monitoring and sharing their findings on the current flu season on their blog. They are sharing their findings on various trends to help the health of the population and look ahead to contributing information.
It seems Athenahealth has leveraged electronic health records to become a silver lining during this time where our politicians can’t seem to come to an agreement. Maybe this will start to give more importance to the electronic sharing of this type of information and allow us to get a better handle on how infections and diseases are spread.
Do you know of any other examples of silver linings that are shining through during the gloomy time of this shutdown? Comment and let us hear about it.