Electronic medical records may improve healthcare for California probationers

A lack of easily retrievable medical information for convicts is compromising the level of care healthcare professionals can provide to members of California’s extensive probation system, according to a new report. The implementation of electronic medical records may allow these providers to receive more up-to-date information to care for this potentially challenging group of patients.

The Los Angeles Times reports that the gravity of the situation was revealed as a result of the ongoing prison realignment effort, put into place by Governor Jerry Brown. That initiative called for nonviolent criminals to be transferred from state prisons to county facilities in order to mitigate difficulties stemming from overcrowding.

Prisoners who were then released to local probationary agencies often arrived with a host of medical problems – including mental illness and drug addiction – that were difficult for healthcare providers to treat, primarily because many of these patients lacked medical records.

Though electronic medical records have helped simplify the record keeping process for civilians, such an effort has not been made for convicts. As a result, many of those who leave California’s prison system for re-integration into society cannot receive the level of care that might otherwise prevent a harmful relapse or reimprisonment.

Meanwhile, electronic medical records continue to play an important part in advancements in healthcare technology in the greater medical community. State and local governments may want to consider a strategy that deploys software such as Lytec MD EMR or Allscripts My Way as a solution to the lack of medical documentation in the nation’s prison systems.

Greater use of electric medical records overall has led to improved quality of care for healthcare providers around the country, leading to an average rate of return of 73 percent by the first year of implementation, according to a study from The Hekman Group.