Ariz. seniors to test Medicare program that stores records online

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PHOENIX -- A Medicare pilot program will let seniors store their medical records online is being offered as a trial in Arizona and Utah.

The program is part of an effort by the government to streamline and improve health care.

The idea is that by storing records on the Internet, patients will be able to easily share information among doctors, hospitals, labs and pharmacies rather than providing each individual care provider with hard copies.

This ease of access could help patients when they change doctors, pick up prescriptions or receive treatment in an emergency room.

The program is a step by the health-care industry toward modernizing medical-record keeping.

Proponents said keeping records online and accessible will reduce the potential errors that can occur when a doctor does not know a patient's history.

Arizona and Utah were chosen to test the program because both states have diverse mix of seniors, as well as a good split of rural and urban areas.

In addition, Arizona has made the implementation of advanced health-information technology a priority.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.