EMR program in Texas prisons saves taxpayers $1 billion, improves inmate health

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A medical informatics system developed by Atlanta-based Business Computer Applications (BCA) has improved the quality of healthcare provided to inmates across the Texas correctional system, while saving taxpayers as much as $1 billion.

According to research firm the Gartner Group, the partnership between the Texas Department of Criminal Justice and the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) has streamlined patient care for inmates and reduced taxpayer expenditure. The UTMB combined a clinical informatics system with the largest telemedicine system outside of the Pentagon, creating an electronic medical record system that has saved more than $1 billion in taxpayer funds over the last 10 years.

“These systems enable correctional facilities to diagnose and treat inmates in-house, thereby reducing the need for transportation and security to transfer them to outside medical facilities,” said Albert Woodward, chief executive officer of BCA, as quoted by FierceEMR. “It enables healthcare providers to better document patient care and to have access to their charts from anywhere in the world, allowing them to easily and cost effectively prepare, review, plan and treat inmate medical, dental and mental health problems.”

The system is being utilized by 120 state correctional facilities, 15 youth institutions and three federal penitentiaries, and is considered to be a model of how inmate healthcare should be handled. Texas has a prison inmate population of more than 150,000, which costs the state in excess of $3 billion each year to operate. The BCA medical informatics system is in operation at 145 locations statewide, and processes more than 19,000 interactions every month.

Michael Bourdeau, Director of Correctional Managed Care information systems at UTMB, said that the introduction of the clinical informatics system has reduced the cost of provision of healthcare coverage to just $9.67 per inmate, compared to $41.25 in California, the only state to have a higher rate of incarceration than Texas.