Not all patient records are going digital despite state mandate

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Minnesota health care providers are supposed to have all their patient records digitized by this year, but not some of them haven't yet made the conversion which was mandated by the state eight years ago.

MPR reports primary care clinics are almost all complying, but thousands of dentists, mental health professionals and chiropractors are lagging in digitizing records.

The state health department doesn't have a lot of power to enforce the digital record-keeping, though, nor is it seeking that authority.

The idea behind electronic medical records is that they can be easily shared among various medical professionals to improve patient safety and efficiency, the Associated Press reports.

But for some providers, it's an expensive move and it also raises concerns over patient privacy.

A survey published in November polled 400 doctors and found more than 60 percent of them said it takes longer to do patient notes on the computer versus using a notepad. On average, doctors lost 48 minutes a day due to electronic medical records.

The electronic health records are also required by the federal government. Providers not transitioning to electronic files could see cuts in their Medicare payments, MPR reports.

St. Paul psychologist Peter Zelles tells MPR he is concerned clients could be less inclined to share information knowing the records are digitized and others could see them. But a patient can legally ask a provider not to change it.

A bill in the Minnesota House would allow some providers to opt out of electronic record-keeping if they have seven or fewer caregivers in their practice. But health officials tell MPR that 80 percent of providers in Minnesota fall into that category and would be exempt, which would defeat the purpose of the rule.

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