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For years.. more than a decade at least, the idea of having a paperless office, organization, or business has been a dream. As technology improves, less and less paper is being used for everyday business transactions. In health care, sadly, the march towards paperless has not been nearly as fast paced. While I mentioned a hospital in Canada that has gone nearly paperless for most of its day-to-day patient care requirements, that example is only one hospital. There are hundreds of thousands of hospitals worldwide who are still stuck in the 1960s in terms of paper usage.

Another hospital, however, has joined the near-paperless ranks. The Instituto Mediterraneo per I Trapianti e Terapie ad Alta Specializzazione (ISMETT) in Italy is not only one of the world’s leading transplant hospitals, but it’s now almost entirely paperless.

ISMETT’s Chief Information Officer, Tommaso Piazza, has invested 14,000 Euros per bed and continues to pour 5,000 Euros per bed per year into their new electronic medical records (EMR) system. For their efforts, the hospital has won several awards including a Stage 6 HIMSS Analytics EMRAM this year and an expected Stage 7 next year.

Financially, the CIO explains that the investment is paying off with reduced costs and time thanks to improved access to records, faster recording times, less data entry required, and lower incidence of human errors. The biggest boon has been with the elimination of misinterpretation of information due to handwriting recognition problems, he says.

Although the investment was very large, the system is doing well in one of the world’s leading patient care centers. It’s one more great example of how, if enough need is perceived by those involved, electronic records (be their EMRs or personal health records via patient empowerment) can greatly increase efficiency and save time and money in healthcare.

  • By Kevin Hauser Submitted on June 7th, 2011

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