TCU physician helps initiative to put medical records online

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    TCU physician Dr. Matthew Murray is part of a Health Information Technology (HIT) initiative that hopes to improve the efficiency and quality of healthcare across the state of Texas.

    In his first ten years of practice at Cook Children's Hospital, where he worked for 17 years before coming to TCU, Murray said he served as a physician in the emergency department.

    In the early 2000s, he became part of the administrative side of medical care that exposed him to electronic medical record keeping, which would allow physicians to access a private and secure database to share medical records of their patients.

    With an electronic database, doctors would be able to examine x-rays and view test results or past conditions of patients, which could speed up the process of medical care and cut down on mistakes, Murray said.

    Dr. Murray and his colleagues act as liaisons for the North Texas Regional Extension Center (NTREC) to educate physicians about how to select and use electronic medical records, in hopes that some will make the switch.  He said he has assisted in writing articles, hosting webinars and presenting on the importance of EMRs, or electronic medical records.

    The NTREC is a federally funded program that is a byproduct of the Recovery Act of 2009. Dr. Murray said the Recovery Act has provided incentive for physicians to implement EMRs into their medical practice. 

    He said if doctors use EMRs over a span of 5 years, they are given $44,000 as incentive.

    “Medicine’s undergoing not only healthcare reform but also a transition into the electronic era,” Murray said.

    It was when a distraught mother brought her child to the emergency room one night that Murray said he realized the importance and relevance of electronic medical records to a physician’s practice.

    The woman was clueless as to what was wrong with her child, but with a small laptop, Dr. Murray was able to educate her on the child’s condition, which had been diagnosed the night before.

    Murray said the woman's words to him, 'that's what every doctor needs,' have stuck with him since 2004.

    The major concerns of physicians in adopting electronic medical records are their cost and amount of effort to manage them. Murray said some doctors lack technical expertise, administrative expertise and time to keep track of EMRs themselves.

    Dr. Murray said he and his associates’ efforts have enrolled more than 1,500 doctors in the North Texas area to make EMRs part of their practice.

    He said as the medical profession is still developing HIT infrastructure, he wants to make sure that the decisions being made come down to one question: What’s best for the patient?

     “And that way when we’re stuck… when the hospital executives want one thing, the insurance people want another, and employers want a third thing… everybody can get together and collaborate to come up with the answer in that case,” he said.