Benefits of Switching to an EMR
What is an Electronic Medical Record?
Simply put, an electronic health record is the digital version of information collated in a health provider’s paper record or file. It contains everything from medical history, medications, diagnoses to immunization dates, allergies, results from the lab, and doctor’s notes. Electronic medical records record this basic clinical data online. They are used in the same way as a provider would use a standard paper record – for diagnosis and treatment. They entail complete and detailed documentation of the medical history and journey of the patient from their biological data, family history of diseases to initial diagnosis, tests, and treatment in one compact digital file. EMRs are thus crucial for providing excellent and top-quality healthcare to the patient.
EMRs are so much more than a simple replacement for paper records. EMR implementation has a range of additional benefits, such as enhanced communication and coordination amongst healthcare professionals and their staff.
Within the cohort of electronic medical records are electronic health records or EHRS as well. EMR and EHR are widely similar in theory but there are some key differences between them. Electronic medical records are data sets of a patient’s history with one provider, while electronic health records are data sets that contain the same information, but they can also be shared amongst health organizations, clinics, and authorized providers. Electronic health records are a step above information from a single provider. It hosts comprehensive information and detailed patient history that is shared to coordinate excellent healthcare for the patient. Essentially, an EMR is a digital form of a paper file or chart, while EHRs are a complete digital record of health information.
Benefits of Electronic Medical Records
The benefits of electronic medical records are twofold. They benefit both the patient and the doctor.
Benefits of EMRs for patients include:
- Errors in medical records are reduced.
- Given that information is all in one place, doctors can assess patients quicker and act accordingly.
- You can track data and results over time, work out trends and patterns.
- The information collated in charts and graphs is likely to be more comprehensive and easy to read.
- Health diagnosis, treatment, and overall quality of care administered can be improved by large margins.
- Doctors can identify patients who need lab tests, screening, and preventative visits easily.
- Patient data is secured due to password protection, thereby also enhancing privacy.
- Patient errors are reduced, which improves the quality of care administered to the patient.
- EMRs enable evidence-based decisions in care.
- They also act as a valuable resource for patients as it provides them with follow-up information after visits such as self-care, information about their diagnosis on web resources, and additional reminders for after-care, medication, dosage, etc.
- The access to medical records also allows the patient to keep up with lifestyle changes and medications which have played a key role in health improvement.
Benefits of EMRs for Healthcare Providers
- Information is collated in one place, which prevents the hassle of having to shuffle papers back and forth. Healthcare professionals can quickly assess information and carry out consultations effectively.
- Clinics save up on space by eliminating paper records entirely. You do not need to dedicate time and space to managing paper files.
- Workflow in the workplace can be optimized, freeing up staff and increasing the number of patients that can be attended to in a day.
- Electronic records are customizable and scalable. You can organize them how they serve you best.
- EMRs and EHRs create an integrated system that allows you to interface with pharmacies, labs, other healthcare providers, and state health systems.
- Patient data can be gathered and analyzed for research purposes. This also enables outreach to populations that are removed.
- EMR systems can be used to generate and send out clinical alerts and reminders
- EMR systems also improve coding and documentation
- The integration of the system allows you to track messages sent out to hospitals, labs, clinicians, and staff.
- The systems also have built-in safeguards against choosing treatments that can have adverse outcomes. EMR systems have been tailored to check for problems when a new medication is prescribed to the patient. It examines and alerts the provider to potential issues with the patient’s other conditions or medicines.
- The system links to public health system databases and registries.
- EMR systems help identify and correct operational problems.
Paper vs. Electronic Records
Moving from paper records to electronic records is beneficial in a number of ways.
- Cost: While the initial cost of EMR implementation may be high, the costs of records are bound to decrease in comparison over time. Paper filing systems require staff and personnel to manage, organize, store and maintain paper files. EMRs do not require as much manpower.
- Storage: Converting paper records to electronic records is also beneficial because paper filing systems require large spaces for storage. They take up space and also fray over time or with consistent use. Ink or pencil marks may also fade. EMRs are private and are stored in a secure cloud. It’s digital so it doesn’t need physical space.
- Readability and Accuracy: Paper records can be difficult to read and comprehend because of the notoriously illegible doctors’ penmanship. Physicians may also run out of space on paper to write down all the information. However, EMRs have a standard typeface and coherent terminology, which makes things easier to understand.
- Security and Access: There are security concerns on both ends. Paper records are susceptible to being stolen due to break-ins; they can be lost or damaged due to natural disasters or other hazards. There is usually only one copy of a paper record. Electronic medical records have the risk of being accessed by unauthorized people. However, EMR systems tend to be password protected and rely on a reliable hosting provider to amp up security. In addition, you can easily access EMRs and share them with people who need them as opposed to scanning paper documents and sending them via email.