Jails Tapping EHRs, Health Data Exchange To Treat Inmates

March 8, 2014 in News

Electronic health record systems can help jails provide more comprehensive care to inmates, according to research published in the journal Health Affairs, FierceEMR reports.

The article was authored by Ben Butler, CIO at Community Oriented Correctional Health Services in Oakland, Calif., and Judy Murphy, deputy national coordinator for programs and policy at the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT.

Details of Research

The research noted that jails face unique challenges in providing health care to incarcerated individuals. For example, individuals in custody tend to be uninsured and have higher rates of:

  • Behavioral health issues;
  • Chronic diseases; and
  • Substance misuse.

In addition, individuals released from jails often do not have adequate access to medical care, according to the article.

However, the meaningful use program and Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act have helped jails more easily adopt EHRs and allowed inmates to access health coverage, according to FierceEMR.

Under the 2009 federal economic stimulus package, health care providers who demonstrate meaningful use of certified EHR systems can qualify for Medicaid and Medicare incentive payments.

Specifically, jails have begun:

  • Developing internal EHR systems;
  • Integrating EHRs into offender management systems; and
  • Engaging in health information exchange with external organizations (Durben Hirsch, FierceEMR, 3/3).
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