The entire Integrity Health Network has gone paperless.
All 15 primary care clinics have shifted to an electronic health records system to improve patient care and make it more efficient.
It's a notable accomplishment, officials say, considering all the clinics are independently owned and each practice had to make the decision whether to go to computer record-keeping. Only 50 percent of health-care providers nationwide have made the switch. In Minnesota, 80 percent - the highest in the nation - have gone paperless.
IHN represents more than 225 physicians from 20 fields of medicine in more than 20 Northland communities. In Duluth, IHN includes the Duluth Family Practice Center, Northland Family Physicians, Kundel Pediatric Associates and Lake Superior Internal Medicine.
New government regulations are requiring more transparency of patients' medical records. And the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 authorized providers of Medicare and Medicaid services to use electronic record keeping. State regulations require 24-hour access of medical records for many patients. Such accessible records are important when patients are transferred to other providers, such as hospitals, nursing homes, another doctor or pharmacy.
"Electronic health records will help us ensure that we more completely meet the needs of our patients." Dr. Dave Luehr, IHN Medical Director of Primary Care said in a statement. "This is especially important for patients with complex chronic diseases who require special monitoring".
Patients also benefit from electronic records that track whether they have received preventative services such as immunizations and mammograms.