A milestone became much closer on July 21 with Medicare's announcement that it will give the Electronic Medical Records (EMR) system used by the VA to physicians for free. As more doctors use EMRs, these systems should help improve the quality of care and control the costs. But with this step, the amount of computerized healthcare data will double. Insurance companies, HMOs, hospitals and physician groups which look at claims data will now get the complete picture without hand- pulling charts, but they will need data warehouses and analysis tools able to store and analyze both types of data and also see how they interact. Vantage Point Healthcare Information Systems announces that its SmartCare integrated data warehouse and analysis software is ready for EMRs right now.

Virtually all healthcare data warehouses store either claims data or medical record data, but not both. These are repositories either for financial history or biomedical research. But from the beginning, SmartCare's data warehouse was designed to support both kinds of data. According to Lawrence Borok, president of Vantage Point, "SmartCare's data warehouse was designed around the patient, not around a particular type of data, with the anticipation that the data about the patient would grow. We built it so that it could expand to include almost an unlimited amount of information about each patient's medical care with no changes in the software. Now with EMR data, we're just filling up more of the available data structure."

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