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Cherokee Nation Replaces Paper with Digital Health Records

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The Cherokee Nation is taking patient records digital, linking them between tribal health centers and its W.W. Hastings Hospital in Tahlequah, Okla., states a Cherokee Nation news release. The transition to electronic health records finally culminated after several months of efforts.

January 2011 marked the first month hospitals and eligible healthcare providers could register and qualify for incentive payments with the federal government, the release states.

“For quite some time we have recognized the need for this type of shared information system. We are thrilled to be one of the health care systems nationwide to participate in this initiative,” said Melissa Gower, group leader for Cherokee Nation Health Services, in the release.

The move was made possible by the U.S. Health and Human Services and the Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, signed into law by President Barack Obama on February 17, 2009, allotting $19.2 billion for health information technology (health IT) across the board, reported The New England Journal of Medicine.

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Nine Cherokee Nation health centers and its hospital are already implementing electronic patient records. The tribe has also participated on local, state and national levels to help health IT expand and connect health centers around the nation to benefit patients.

“This will save the patient and their family both time and money,” said Cherokee Nation Medical Director Dr. Gloria Grim.