How the Affordable Care Act affects medical records

July 31st, 2012 | Posted by Kevin Corley in Document Management

While uncertainty still remains regarding President Obama's Affordable Care Act, even after the Supreme Court upheld the individual mandate, some of the lesser known effects of the bill are being seen among healthcare providers.

One of those changes is the imperative that all electronic records must be available across networks and between hospitals. The decision was made in order to promote improved document management by increasing the usefulness of digital records, according to a recently created government website, Healthcare.gov.

The ACA also included a stimulus for hospitals and healthcare providers that made a transition away from physical documents. Such a sweeping attempt was made in order to alleviate our reliance on paper, which can be easily lost, misplaced or destroyed. A dramatic instance of paper's fallibility comes from Hurricane Katrina, a category five hurricane that destroyed nearly 1 million medical records, according to Fox News.

The immediate impact of having paper-based records could be seen during the actual hurricane. With hundreds of thousands of residents displaced by the natural disaster, hospitals scrambled to upload information to online servers in an attempt to identify individuals and properly update patient data, ABC News reported. With the records online, doctors were more aware of allergies and medical conditions while treating patients, and were more able to provide accurate and efficient healthcare, the news source stated.

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