Funds boost medical efforts

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LANSING — As tens of thousands of citizens and thousands of physicians leave the state, the Michigan State Medical Society hopes that federal stimulus dollars will increase medical technology in hospitals and improve health care for those who stay.

The Obama administration has put $19 billion into the push for information technology, but doctors and hospitals will have to adapt to changes that are expected to reduce errors and serve more patients.

“Health care is the largest industry that touches everyone,” said Gregory Forzley, chair of the MSMS board and a family physician in Grand Rapids.

At the forefront of health care is technology. Hospitals and physicians plan to use stimulus dollars to advance information technology. The money could yield state and federal benefits for medical practices and their patients.

Technology such as electronic medical records will reduce errors while treating more patients at a faster pace. For example, the American Medical Association says that electronic medical records have “managed scheduling, patient data registration, health history and medication lists.”

Only 4 to 10 percent of hospitals in Michigan are using such electronic technology, and high–speed Internet access, which will be necessary for some technology, isn’t available throughout the state, Forzley said.

With a push for technology advancement, physicians will have to adopt the technology to help their practice, while weighing the costs and maintenance of systems such as electronic records, he said.

Forzely said that implementing electronic medical records in a hospital could cost millions of dollars if starting from scratch. Learning how to use a new system, as well as training staff, could add more expense into the equation.

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