Only about 13 percent of physicians have a basic electronic medical records system, according to a new study by the New England Journal of Medicine. In South Carolina, however, any physician, clinic or hospital with Internet access can reap the benefits of an electronic-records system with a new Web tool. The South Carolina Health Information Exchange is a free, password-protected Web portal where doctors can instantly call up over 700,000 medical histories of state Medicaid patients. The portal contains the last 10 years of a patient's Medicaid claims, including prescription and treatment history. Doctors can use this information to prevent dangerous drug interactions, eliminate unnecessary tests and improve the overall treatment of a patient. Launched earlier this month, SCHIEx will eventually allow for the sharing of data from existing electronic medical records systems, immunization records, lab results and hospital records. The encrypted portal is available only to registered providers, and Medicaid beneficiaries who do not wish to have their information shared can opt out. SCHIEx is a collaboration among the state Department of Health and Human Services -- which paid $250,000 for the new system -- the Office of Research and Statistics and several health-care associations.