Over the past few decades, medical knowledge has increased significantly. More and more patients are living longer, which means doctors and providers have to manage more health concerns through good information and good relationships with their patients. Electronic medical records (EMRs) are tools that can create a positive effect on health care delivery.
So what are the benefits of using EMRs? Electronic medical record platforms are widely used in various hospitals, clinics, and other healthcare specialists across the country. Instead of relying on paper-based documents and files, healthcare professionals are digitizing patient information on EMRs for easy and complete access to information, safe storage for data, smoother workflows, and optimal care.
An electronic medical record is best understood as a digital version of a patient’s chart. It contains the medical and treatment history of a patient from one practice, such as their diagnoses, medication, immunization dates, and allergies. An EMR works well to track patient information over time and identify which patients may need preventative visits, screenings, and follow-ups with a health provider.
An EMR stays in the doctor’s office and does not get shared; if a patient switches doctors, their EMR with the previous physician is unlikely to follow. An electronic health record (EHRs), on the other hand, is a type of digital record for patient health information that is shared among different care providers.
EHRs provide a wide range of patient data from multiple doctors for a long term view of the patient’s health, including demographics, medical history, test results, prescriptions, and a history of present illness. There is also a personal health record (PHRs) which contains the same type of information as EHRs, but is designed to be set-up, accessed, and managed by each patient personally.
Nowadays, EMRs and EHRs are terms that are used interchangeably because they function similarly to make healthcare more efficient and less costly. Even though an EHR may be more complete, an EMR will suffice if you're looking to go paperless and automate your clinical processes. And EHR can also be more complicated, as these digital documents have to be shared among all the physicians concerned with a particular patient.
Implementing electronic medical records can turn an age-old system into something more efficient. EMRs are designed to make storing, organizing, editing, and retrieving health records easy to do. Here are six benefits of using an EMR system:
At its most basic level, the goal of an EMR is to capture and provide basic information about a patient, especially those related to their demographic and clinical health. These medical records are crucial for doctors to make better decisions for their patient.
However, as anyone who has ever worked at a fast-paced medical office will tell you, physician’s notes can become unreliable over time. Although this method of recording patient information is comfortable and familiar for many doctors, the rushed manner in which the notes are written can make them difficult to decipher.
Another problem is how the records are filed. Not only does it take time to sort through medical files, but filing has a human component to it. The files can be misplaced, misfiled, or even destroyed and restrict the flow of work.
Digital records are much clearer to read, as they are legible and stored in a standardized format. Healthcare professionals can easily skim through the files directly for information, as well as retrieve or access the records on their computer -- which can be life-saving during emergency situations. Aside from eliminating the possibility of a misfield or lost chart, multiple employees can access, manage, and locate EMRs at the same time.
Paper charts and files take up a lot of physical space as they grow -- and grow they should if your goal is to find more patients and retain existing ones. These documents, however, make it necessary to find alternate storage facilities for older chart volumes. An EMR system would replace file cabinets entirely, freeing up limited space in your office or clinic.
And instead of struggling to manage the costs of papers, dividers, folders, and the like, EMR can reduce office overhead significantly. If all patient files can be stored on a single hard drive and backed up on Cloud, you can:
In an age when data privacy compliance is essential, EMR can keep medical records safe, secure, and confidential. As paper records are easy to lose, accidentally destroy, or steal if the physical storage space isn’t secure, login details and encrypted protocols on an EMR platform can keep patient information safe. Control features to restrict access, maintain audit trails, and perform data backups or restoration can better protect archived health records.
Aside from having fewer mistakes, being easier to read, and containing more precise data, ERM technology can present data in formats that are not possible with paper charts. Physicians can view and print graphs of values like weight, cholesterol levels, or blood pressure and track these changes over time.
In more advanced EMR software, doctors can also see treatment goals or check alerts for when screening maneuvers are due or outdated. Care providers would have access to information and resources concerning individual patients, as well as a huge repository of well-organized health records for research purposes.
It can be trying to answer repetitive front-desk questions at every visit to your health care provider. Instead of sorting through physical records -- which can be slow, cumbersome, and time-consuming -- patients would appreciate how convenient it is to find their information on a digital system. With only a few clicks, everyone can save their time and energy.
And if a patient needs to check their current prescription or provide their medical history to a specialist, they can easily access their records through the online patients’ portal of most ERM platforms. Instead of asking their doctor to look for and photocopy their records, they can visit the portal and check their medical history whenever they wish. Some ERM software may even include chart summaries, medical notes, consultation letter templates, and schedule booking features for a seamless patient experience.
With an EMR platform in place, care providers can have an easier and faster time in placing prescription, imaging, or laboratory work orders. The digital file can be printed or sent directly from the system online, so the request is ready by the time the patient gets through the laboratory or pharmacy doors.
There are also fewer chances of erroneous orders being carried out because the physician’s handwriting is harder to read, so patients wouldn’t be inconvenienced. Some platforms also offer clinical decision support functions, like highlighting abnormal test results, alerting providers for abnormal vital signs, or triggering alarms if a known-allergic drug was prescribed.
Through EMR systems, patients can better participate in their own care. Having online access to their records can empower a patient to make their own decisions, leading to lower service utilization and better care outcomes. An EMR can also improve patient satisfaction by:
Many physicians and other medical professionals are hesitant to implement and utilize EMR for a number of reasons. Aside from the large financial cost, investing in an EMR software takes time, training, and technology in order to maximize the system:
Still, the benefits definitely outweigh the drawbacks. Increased data safety and decreased medical errors, as well as improvements in clinical decision making, patient care, and general productivity in healthcare delivery make any well-established ERM platform worth the trouble.
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