Saving Lives through Electronic Medical Record Unification with HCHIC

“Our Father’s life was shortened by many years because a laboratory test result that showed a reversible  kidney failure was lost in the paper shuffle.”

– The Dunn Family

Healthcare needs Electronic Medical Records (EMR) in order to avoid errors like the above. But healthcare has major EMR problems. Economically, EMR’s are frequently treated as a private good like furniture or cars when they are probably a public good like a lighthouse. This has led to market failure.

There are hundreds of proprietary EMR software companies and vendors in the United States, yet there is a low rate of adoption in the industry. Practically no two health care sites or agencies run the same EMR software or they run no EMR software at all. This greatly diminishes the value of EMR’s in medicine.  The not-for-profit Harris County Health Information Cooperative (HCHIC) exists to coordinate and unify EMR software across organizations in Harris County and Texas.

Unification on this scale in a large US city would be unprecedented and remarkably beneficial in terms of quality of care and the cost of delivering that care. It also provides the beginning of eventual unification of all EMR systems in Texas which would exponentially increase the value of these systems to patients and practitioners.

HCHIC is holding its inaugural fundraiser: the ‘St. Arnold’s Brewery Bash for Medical Error Reduction/County-wide EMR’ September 20th, 6:30pm  at St. Arnold’s Brewery, 2522 Fairway Park Drive, Houston, Tx 77092 The cost is free but donations are appreciated. More information at

Author: Ignacio H. Valdes, MD, MS was a software engineer for such companies as IBM and Compaq before going to medical school and becoming a board certified Psychiatrist. He is an internationally recognized expert in Electronic Medical Record software. Dr. Valdes is founder of the Harris County Health Information Cooperative (HCHIC), a non-profit organization devoted to unifying the health information infrastructure in Harris County.

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