“Paper kills,” (Newt Gingrich) said. “Paper records are an utterly irrational national security risk.”
Gingrich is the founder of the Center for Health Transformation, a public/private partnership trying to push technological reforms into the health care system.
“I hope we will never have a more vivid, more explicit case study in the need to have electronic health records now,” he said, adding that it is financially and morally wrong for America to not have electronic medical files.
Of course, there's nothing to say that just because your health records are electronic that they won't be wiped out by natural disaster - or nearly wiped out, requiring heroic measures:
from the Akron Beacon-Journal (an AP wire story)
The federal government's goal is to give most Americans computerized medical records within 10 years. But it's so expensive and technologically challenging that only a fraction of the nation's doctors offer them now -- meaning many patients in the hurricane-ravaged Gulf Coast will have to completely reconstruct their medical histories.
One bright exception: Even though the New Orleans VA Medical Center flooded, electronic medical records for 50,000 patients of that hospital and surrounding veterans' outpatient clinics survived. On Sept. 1, a Department of Veterans Affairs computer specialist was airlifted from New Orleans carrying backup tapes of all the records, which by the next night had been re-entered into computers in Houston.
``Every single thing on that computer was saved,'' said Charlie Gephart, records chief for the South-Central VA Healthcare Network.