The Texas prison system's adoption of electronic health records and telemedicine helped reduce state spending by about $1 billion over the past decade, FierceEMR reports (FierceEMR 8/25)
The Texas Department of Criminal Justice implemented an EHR system developed by Business Computer Applications. Health care providers use the EHR system to track medical, dental, mental health and pharmacy services at 120 state prisons, 3 federal prisons and 15 youth prisons, as well as county jails.
Michael Bourdeau, director of correctional managed care information systems for UTMB, said the adoption of the EHR system helped bring Texas' daily medical costs per inmate to $9.67. In comparison, California spends about $41.25 in daily medical costs per inmate.
In addition to an EHR system, Texas' prisons use a telemedicine system that provides access to health care providers at the UTMB and Texas Tech University.
Bourdeau noted that the combination of EHR and telehealth technology "helped UTMB and Texas Tech provide improved access to specialists, continuity of care and follow-up care while decreasing costs" (Monegain, Healthcare IT News, 8/24).
Other Efforts Nationwide
Meanwhile, other regions around the country have started investing in EHRs for prison systems.
For example, Georgia recently renewed a contract allowing state agencies -- including the Department of Corrections -- to implement EHRs for care and cost-saving purposes.
In May 2010, Maricopa County, Ariz., paid $10 million to implement an EHR system in an effort to improve care conditions for inmates.
Meanwhile, Los Angeles County, Calif., has approved a $17 million investment to deploy an EHR system in its juvenile detention facilities (FierceEMR, 8/25).
In an Atlanta Journal-Constitution opinion piece published earlier this month, Albert Woodard -- CEO of BCA -- writes that "the adoption of [EHRs] will not only lead to major health care savings for Georgia and a boon for the state's health care IT industry, but it will reduce medical errors and improve efficiency and health."
He writes that the use of EHRs, telemedicine, managed care and other computer-based systems in correctional facilities improves documentation and enables health care providers to "diagnose and treat inmates in-house, thereby reducing the need for transportation and security to transfer them to outside medical facilities" (Woodard, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 8/2).