Press Releases

WILMINGTON, DE (Nov. 10, 2005) – This Veterans Day, Senator Carper will visit the VA Medical Center in Elsmere to get a first-hand look at how the hospital uses state-of-the-art information technology to access patient records at the touch of a button. Electronic health records, which allow physicians to call up patient medical history and order prescriptions, x-rays and other tests, have streamlined how VA medical centers across the country do business and dramatically improved the delivery of health care for all veterans. At Friday’s event, hospital administrators will demonstrate to Sen. Carper and media how the VA uses this state-of-the-art technology to more quickly diagnose patients and provide better care to veterans. The demonstration will feature a “dummy” patient, who will be used to show how doctors and nurses use the technology in their daily jobs to treat patients. Background In 2004, the Elsmere facility, as well as popular satellite clinics in Millsboro and Seaford, served more than 22,000 veterans and had more than 159,000 outpatient visits – both totals are 20 percent higher than just four years ago. The Center in Elsmere has a reputation for patient care that is so good that veterans from neighboring states often seek care in Delaware instead of where they live. More than 85 percent of Delaware’s outpatients said they were “highly satisfied” with the care they received. Discussions are now underway to explore opening a third outpatient clinic in Kent County in the next year or two. The VA’s decision back in the mid-1990s to invest in cutting-edge information technology today allows doctors to quickly access medical records, diagnose health problems, and monitor progress and results. Rather than flipping through files that may not be complete, doctors and nurses can just push a button to view annual physicals, prescriptions, lab test results, MRIs and X-Rays – much of what is needed to make an accurate diagnosis and provide appropriate care. Furthermore, an individual’s records are accessible from anywhere, whether it’s at the Elsmere hospital, the clinic in Seaford, or a veteran’s hospital in California. Physicians and patients can also access records through the VA’s website (http://www.myhealth.va.gov). Such a system enables the VA to go above and beyond what many other hospitals can do today. Having all records electronically stored allows the VA to monitor patients who haven’t been to the doctor lately but need a flu shot or an annual checkup. It also allows the VA to crosscheck patient records to identify disease outbreaks and then move quickly to contain them and treat patients accordingly. Today, about $2 trillion are spent annually on health care, but we don’t always get the best return from our investment. Last year, medical errors accounted for roughly 98,000 deaths. Information systems like the one VA has employed can help revolutionize how we provide health care– lowering costs and saving lives. Similar to the VA, Delaware is developing a system to link all of Delaware’s health care facilities so that doctors and nurses can access patient records electronically in a Delaware Health Information Network. In Washington, Senator Carper and other members of Congress are working with the Bush Administration to enact legislation encouraging other regions to do the same. Friday, November 11, 2005 WHO: Senator Tom Carper Richard Citron, Director, VA Medical Center Representatives from the Department of Veterans Affairs WHAT: Information Technology Demonstration WHEN: Friday, November 11, 2005 1:00 pm – 1:45 pm WHERE: VA Medical Center* 1601 Kirkwood Highway Elsmere *Please enter through the emergency room entrance and meet in the lobby