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Health Agencies Update
January 28, 2004

Sharing Patient Health Data

JAMA. 2004;291(4):415. doi:10.1001/jama.291.4.415-b

A new report by the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies says that health care organizations should adopt technology to collect health information on patients and share it through a national network. The new directive is part of an effort to reduce the tens of thousands of deaths and injuries that occur each year as a result of medical errors.

The report's authors hope that electronic records provided in a standardized form will allow clinicians immediate access to patient information that is uniform and easily comprehensible. Data standards, they said, should be developed in the following areas: clinical terminology, exchange of data among computers, and representation of medical information in computer programs. The committee also urged government health care programs such as Medicare to promote the adoption of national data standards by incorporating them into their regulatory requirements.

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