Visiting the doctor's office can be an exercise in total
recall: How has your health changed in the past year? Which medications are you
taking? What's your family's health history?
Imagine not having to recount any of that. That's one benefit of electronic
medical records, which can provide physicians comprehensive access to your vital data with
the click of a mouse.
These digital files can help make your medical care safer. Doctors can more easily check new prescriptions against existing
ones for dangerous interactions, for example. Of course, technology is never perfect and
patients should make sure their records are accurate.
Depending where you live in the U.S., your medical records
may still be stuck in the 20th century. Some states, such as Connecticut
and New Jersey, have some of the lowest adoption rates of basic electronic
medical records in the country. Others, such as Massachusetts and Minnesota,
have some of the highest. See how high tech your health care is.
Special Report: Medical Technology: Electronic Health Records
Sources: Centers for Disease
Control, National Center for Health Statistics, National Ambulatory
Medical Care survey, Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT, U.S.
Department of Health and Human Services.