Improving health care efficiency in rural areas - The role of the electronic health record

Tom Mulholland, Simon Leslie, Peter Mackinlay Yellowlees

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Both health professionals and patients in rural areas are disadvantaged, health professionals through long hours and limited peer support and educational opportunities, and patients because they do not have the same level of access to health services as their urban counterparts. One key contributing factor to this incongruence in care for patients is the lack of a unique patient health record. Doctor Global is an Australasian health services and clinical software provider, which supplies web-based health records. The organisation's philosophy is based on the belief that online consultations and a web-based electronic health record (EHR) can increase access to health care, reduce errors, and create efficiency. Access to the health record via a secure database and the internet allows rural patients to remain informed and part of the process and assists with referral to specialists. No information is "sent"; it remains secure and available as a shared resource accessible to the consumer and all relevant health professionals. Potential benefits of shared EHRs include improved outcomes for patients and increased patient knowledge of their own condition(s), and improved clinical decision-making processes, safety and accuracy for health professionals through ready access to timely, reliable, accurate, comprehensive and relevant patient information. The opportunity exists via EHRs and the internet to enhance the quality of patient care in rural and remote locations and for transient population groups by: empowering consumers through greater access to their own information; providing health care providers with an effective way of carrying out on-line patient consultations in a highly secure and private environment; increasing consumer safety through availability of a complete medical record with reduced legibility problems and risk of transcription errors. Rural communities are already online and trading and adding health care to the services available is a logical and necessary addition. Numerous people perceive rural life as having many advantages over city dwelling and the internet and EHRs may ensure that the quality of health care available to rural dwellers matches that of their urban counterparts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalHealthcare Review Online
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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