With the rapid evolution and improvement in technologies, new inventions have surfaced and have proved to be important to humans. One of these inventions is the computer. A computer is a machine that can be instructed to carry out sequences of arithmetic or logical operations automatically via computer programming. Modern computers have the ability to follow generalized sets of instructions called programs. With the improvement in technologies, programmers have been able to make programs that have changed the way medical science handles large data. This is by using electronic health records.
What is an electronic health record?
Electronic health records (EHR) are digital versions of a patient’s paper chart. An electronic health record is the systematized collection of patient and population electronically-stored health information in digital format. EHRs are real-time, patient-centered records that make health information available instantly and securely to authorized users. These records can be shared across different healthcare settings. These records are shared through network-connected enterprise-wide information systems or other information networks and exchanges. In short, electronic medical records software makes it easier to manage patient’s records by having a single secure place from which to access patient’s data.
Data that may behold in electronic health records:
- Medical history.
- Immunization status.
- Laboratory test results.
- Radiology images.
- Billing information.
- Vital signs and
- Personal statistics eg age and weight.
Examples of electronic health records software.
- AMS Ultra charts.
- Epic EMR.
- InSync EMR.
Benefits of Electronics health records.
- It increases legibility which reduces medication errors.
- Managing medications through EHR improves patient outcomes over time.
- The EHR flags each critical value for clinical staff, making notifications simpler for nurses. Moreover, it also helps clinicians to determine when to repeat a lab test.
- It improves treatment and clinical outcomes are by reducing the number of duplicate tests and improving overall efficiency.
- There is a financial incentive for medical providers.
- Proper information is easier to document.
- Patients have better access to their medical records.
- It saves time.
- Orders can be initiated with greater speeds.
- Billing can become more accurate.
- It can be a tool for preventive health.
Disadvantages of electronics health records.
- HIPAA violations are more common than many realize.
- Hackers don’t need to access patient’s files to restrict them. Therefore, this may cost hospitals money paid as ransom for them to access the file records. Moreover, hackers may sell the data causing breaching of privacy.
- It must be updated on a regular basis so as to perform as needed.
- The doctor must have computer access.
- Electronic health record systems are not cheap. Hospitals face high installation charges of the system and must keep paying for the management fee or the regular updates. Thus, EHR is easier to keep critical data but the data must be protected from unauthorized access.
Comparison between Electronic health records and paper records.
Electronic health records save time, unlike medical paper records. This is because they allow significantly faster retrieval of lab and imagery results, have features for faster billings, and cut down human errors like sloppy handwriting and misplaced files.
EHRs save a lot of money in the long-term compared to medical paper records. Although initially, the cost may be high, over time, electronic charts are going to save your practice money by speeding up workflows, reducing labor costs and operational costs. In the meantime, paper records will slow you down as features such as interoperability and revenue-cycle management become more electronic-based.
Misplacement or losing of protected health records will cause the doctors to face serious consequences for HIPAA violations.
Although there are many cases of hackers stealing data from EHRs systems, medical paper records still remain at a higher risk of HIPAA violations. Moreover, EHRs have password protection and data encryption features that can help protect health organizations from HIPAA violations whereas paper records don’t have such features. In fact, leaving paper records in the wrong place is a HIPAA violation.
EHRs are far more useful than paper records. To doctors who rely on medicare reimbursements, they must submit claims in order to get that money. The federal regulations require the use of electronic records systems to qualify for reimbursements. Moreover, electronic health record systems also provide better interactions for the patients.
In conclusion, although transitioning might be intimidating, it is the best option for medical providers who strive for efficiency and less cost.