A major effort is underway to convert all paper medical records in the region into digital, making the San Antonio region the first area in the state to have a single community portal where patients and doctors can go to seek out complete medical histories, 1200 WOAI news reports.


  Kimberly Harris of Healthcare Access San Antonio says it is a major effort to reduce paper records which currently reside in thousands of doctors offices, hospital filing cabinets, urgent care centers and nursing homes into one easy to access electronic file.


  "You'll be able to have it on your phone, or be able to access it from your home computer," Harris said.


  Making medical records digital has been a ten year goal of health care professionals and federal and state officials.  It is seen as a way to streamline care, avoid duplication of expensive medical services, and to make it easier for new doctors to see what treatments other doctors have prescribed.  The effort has nothing to do with Obamacare.


  "Our job at HASA is to aggregate all of the information that is currently sitting in different silos, the hospital, your physician, or any place where you seek treatment, and to bring it all together into one easy format," Harris said.


  It is estimated that as much as 10% of the total medical expenditures in the United States come from duplication of tests, simply because one doctor doesn't have the record of testing done by another physician or at another hospital.


  "You'll be able to access your medical records, keep them and store them, and be able to send them to a physician when you are going to a doctor," she said.


  Paper medical records, often stored in huge rolling cabinets behind the receptionist in the doctors office, has long been the weak point in medical care.  Each year parents scramble to obtain children's shot records for school, busy moms and dads have to lug around suitcases of records for special needs children who have frequent doctor and hospital visits.  And some patients were a variety of bracelets, necklaces, and other ways to warn doctors of an allergy to a specific drug or procedure should they arrive at an emergency room unconscious.


 Harris compares the new computerized medical records to your credit report.  She says you'll be able to access your own records at any time, and made whatever changes are necessary.  She says patients can also delete certain information from their records.  If they don't want a boss or an insurance company to know about their treatment for heroin addiction as a teenager, that information can be removed.


  She says patients can also opt out of the entire system if they want.


  "We are a voluntary program, so any patient who is uncomfortable with this doesn't have to participate."


  She says the digitalization process should be completed this summer.  At that time, patients will be notified, probably through their physician's office, how they can access their records.  She says all records will be secure and password protected.