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General Health : Government Last Updated: Apr 20, 2011 - 9:38:09 AM

Massachusetts wants universal use of electronic medical records
By Sue Mueller
Mar 4, 2008 - 12:10:06 PM

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TUESDAY MARCH 4, 2008 ( -- Massachusetts, the first state that has passed legislation to require all residents to purchase a minimal health insurance policy, may soon require that patients' medical information be placed in an electronic medical records or EMR system.

Massachusetts Senate President Therese Murray reportedly has proposed health-care legislation that would mandate statewide adoption of EMR by 2015.

The legislation, which includes other provisions on health-care reforms, demands $25 million per year in public money to support adoption of EMRs.  The total cost could be as much as $175 million by 2015, Mass High Tech - The Journal of New England Technology reported. Additional funding sources would come from state cigarette taxes, the State House News Service reported, cited by Mass High Tech.

The total cost for adoption of EMR system in the state would be as high as $500 million as estimated earlier by the Massachusetts eHealth Collaborative, an organization that is working on EMR adoption in the state.

Electronic medical records have proved to be a concern for many patients.  Earlier a search engine giant was said to team up with a medical service provider to build the nation's first online medical information system, prompting many consumers to worry about the prospect of their medical privacy.

The Massachusetts legislation proposed would also ban drug companies from giving gifts such as payments, entertainment, meals, travel, honorarium, subscriptions and even small items such as pens to doctors and their family members who are also prohibited from receiving gifts.  Violators would face up to $5,000, two years in prison or both.

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