According to the independent IT research firm Gartner Group, Texas taxpayers have saved $1B over the past 10 years by implementing an electronic health records (EHR) system in its state correctional system. The EHR is reported to have improved clinical outcomes for patients and includes a telemedicine component developed through the University of Texas Medical Branch and Texas Tech University.
The use of EHR's and telemedicine as a improvement to patient care and substantial cost reduction tool has led to the deployment of similar systems in correctional systems across the country, including: Georgia Department of Corrections, the city of Philadelphia, Maricopa County, Ariz., and Los Angeles County approved $17 million for an EMR system for its juvenile detention facilities. Such action is a move in the right direction. The key will be how well all of these systems derived from a multitude of suppliers can integrate with each other to establish continuity of care in and out of the correctional ecosystem. Some of the criteria to meet meaningful use requirements is data portability; nevertheless, they are not necessarily required to speak to each other.
I hope that as the EHR companies race to enroll as many individual providers, hospitals, and government groups into their programs they don't loose sight of the long term value proposition associated with creating robust API connections in and out of their products.