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Sen. Todd Gardenhire, right, listens to Sen. Bo Watson Tuesday, January 5, 2016 at the Chattanooga Times Free Press.

This story was updated Friday, July 19, 2019, at 11:15 p.m. with more information.

State Sen. Todd Gardenhire, R-Chattanooga, has been appointed by Lt. Governor Randy McNally to serve as chairman of the Electronic Health Records Task Force.

As chairman, Gardenhire said he wants to identify ways to improve the Electronic Health Records, commonly called EHR, systems used in Tennessee by increasing their efficiency, cutting costs to medical providers and eliminating potential fraud and abuse of TennCare, the state's Medicaid program.

"When electronic health records were first introduced by the Obama Administration ten years ago, they were promised to streamline the health records process for doctors and patients by keeping all of a patient's health records in one place in a portable form," Gardenhire said in a news release. "However, EHRs have fallen short of their promises and have resulted in more headaches for many doctors and health care professionals."

EHRs are expensive and can open the door for fraud and abuse. They're also frequently cited as a source of frustration and burnout among medical providers.

Erlanger Health System recently implemented an EHR software called Epic. The undertaking cost Erlanger $100 million over 10 years and required about 100 new employees. Parkridge Medical Center underwent its own conversion several years ago to a system called Meditech, and CHI Memorial is currently in the process of transitioning to Epic with plans to go live in November.

The task force plans to work with health care experts from across the country and state to undertake a comprehensive review of the utilization of electronic health records in Tennessee. Other members include Sen. Paul Bailey, R-Sparta; Sen. Mike Bell, R-Riceville; Sen. Shane Reeves, R-Murfreesboro; and Sen. Katrina Robinson, R-Memphis.

Contact Elizabeth Fite at efite@timesfreepress.com.

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