Ore. prison medical records set to go electronic

$3 million has been set aside to reformat files on each of the state's 14,600 inmates

By C1 Staff

PORTLAND — Money has been set aside in the 2015-17 budget to digitize thousands of inmate medical records in the Oregon prison system.

The Statesman Journal reports that $3 million has been set aside to reformat files on each of the state’s 14,600 inmates, plus more than 40,000 files the state maintains on former inmates.

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The new system, while expensive, will alleviate logistical problems and allow for better inmate health care, along with more accountable agencies, officials said of the shift. Oregon is one of many states changing from pen and paper documents to digital files.

Currently, when anyone asks for a particular file on an inmate or records need to be transferred, fax machines or physical movement is required to get the paper from one place to another. Oregon has 14 prisons.

Digital files also promise less risk, as they can’t be damaged by flooding or fire.

The Federal Bureau of Prisons has used an electronic system since 2006, called the Bureau Electronic Medical Record; the BOP is currently looking for a more advanced system.

The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation also switched out for an RFP in 2012 to keep track of 120,000 inmates. It’s slated to be completed in 2016.

The new system to be created in Oregon would also benefit inmates as they leave prison, in order to keep track of their medical history.

To begin with, only charts and a few chronic patients will be put into the new digital system. Oregon will still hang on to the pen and paper documents. A full conversion will take years.

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