How to Use Electronic Medical Records

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A Comprehensive Guide for Healthcare Providers

Have you ever wondered how healthcare providers manage patient information? The advancement of technology has buried traditional paper-based records in the past and EMRs have become the new standard for managing patient information, providing numerous benefits over traditional methods.

However, many healthcare providers still struggle to use EMRs effectively, which can lead to frustration and decreased productivity. In this article, we will guide you on EMR usage and provide you with the knowledge and skills you need to embrace its advantages!

What are Electronic Medical Records?

Electronic Medical Records (EMRs) are digital versions of paper medical records. EMRs contain vital patient information such as medical history, diagnoses, treatment plans, medications, allergies, and lab results. EMRs are stored electronically and can be accessed by healthcare providers from anywhere, at any time.

Benefits of Using Electronic Medical Records

EMRs offer many benefits over traditional paper-based medical records. They make it easier to store, access, and manage patient information. EMRs also improve the accuracy and completeness of patient information, reduce errors, and increase efficiency.

Other benefits of using EMRs include:

How Do Electronic Medical Records Work?

patient and doctor consult

EMRs are digital versions of paper medical records that contain all the key administrative and clinical data relevant to a patient's care. They are real-time, patient-centered records that make information available instantly and securely to authorized users. EMRs streamline many core processes, from beginning new patient charts to updating records during treatment.

EMRs are designed to go beyond standard clinical data collected in a provider's office and can be inclusive of a broader view of a patient's care. They help medical professionals quickly enter information on new patients, creating a digital record that they update with each new encounter.

EMRs can be deployed as a cloud-based solution or on a practice's own servers. They are built to share information with other healthcare providers and organizations, such as laboratories, specialists, medical imaging facilities, pharmacies, emergency facilities, and school and workplace clinics, and can move along with a patient should they move or change healthcare practices.

How Are EMR Systems Updated with Patient Information?

EMR systems are updated with patient information by following a few key steps:

Data entryHealthcare providers enter patient data, such as diagnoses, medications, allergies, immunization dates, lab results, and other relevant information, into the EMR system.
Data storageThe EMR system securely stores patient data in a digital format, making it easily accessible to authorized clinicians and staff within one healthcare organization.
InteroperabilityThe EMR vendor community has created standards for data coding and communication to promote interoperability between different products. Initiatives have been funded to harmonize standards and create a certification process for EMRs to enable different products to interoperate better and be easily compared.
Access and sharingProviders can access patient data stored in the EMR system from any device with an internet connection. EHR systems are built to share information with other healthcare providers, such as laboratories and specialists, so they contain information from all the clinicians involved in the patient’s care. The information moves with the patient, making it accessible to all people involved in the patient’s care, including the patient.
Patient engagementEMR systems can provide links to articles, videos, and images that can help patients better understand their specific healthcare situation. Patients can also access their own health records, disease management tools, and health information resources through the EMR system, enabling them to be more involved in their care and make more informed decisions about medical procedures and lifestyle adjustments.

What Information Can I Pull from an EMR?

Healthcare providers can pull a wide range of information from an EMR, including:

  • Patient demographics
  • Medical history
  • Medications and allergies
  • Immunization records
  • Lab and test results
  • Diagnosis and treatment plans
  • Vital signs
  • Progress notes
  • Referral letters
  • Consultation reports
  • Discharge summaries

Primary Patient Record

The primary patient record in an EMR contains all the patient's medical information, including medical history, medications, allergies, immunizations, lab results, and diagnosis and treatment plans.

How to Interpret Electronic Medical Records

Interpreting EMRs requires knowledge of medical terminology and an understanding of how the EMR system works. Healthcare providers should be trained on how to interpret EMRs to ensure they can use them in emergency situations, where quick decisions are a matter of life and death and access to a patient's EMR gives doctors the data they need to make the right choices quickly and with confidence.

Who Uses Electronic Medical Records?

EMRs are used by healthcare providers such as doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals. EMRs are also used by hospitals, clinics, and other healthcare organizations.

Electronic Medical Records for Hospitals

Hospitals use EMRs to store and manage patient information. EMRs make it easier for hospitals to access patient information quickly and efficiently. EMRs also improve patient safety by reducing errors and improving communication between healthcare providers.

Electronic Medical Records and Billing

EMRs are also used for billing purposes. EMRs make it easier to track patient visits, procedures, and medications, which can be used to generate accurate bills for insurance companies and patients.

How to Use Electronic Medical Records

Using EMRs can be overwhelming at first, but with proper training and support, healthcare providers can quickly adapt to this new tool. Here are some steps to help you use EMRs effectively:

Step 1: Get Proper Training

Before using EMRs, it is essential to receive proper training from your organization or vendor. It should cover all aspects of the system, including the navigation of its various modules, entering data, and accessing patient information.

Step 2: Understand Your Workflow

You need to understand your workflow and how EMRs fit into it. Identify the key tasks you perform throughout the day and determine how EMRs can streamline those tasks.

Step 3: Enter Data Accurately

Accurate data entry is crucial when using electronic medical records. Keep all information entered into the system as accurate, complete, and up-to-date. This includes patient demographics, medical history, test results, medications, and notes.

Step 4: Keep Patient Information Confidential

EMRs may contain sensitive patient information, so it is essential to keep them confidential. Make sure to follow all HIPAA regulations and only share patient information with authorized individuals.

Step 5: Collaborate Effectively

EMRs allow multiple healthcare providers to access and update patient records simultaneously, improving collaboration and communication among care teams. Make sure to communicate effectively with other members of your team and document all interactions in the patient's record.

Other Ways to Use EMR

Adding Recordings to Patient Data in an EMR

Adding recordings to a patient's EMR can provide additional information that healthcare providers can use to assess the patient's condition. For example, a recording of a patient's cough or breathing could be added to their EMR to assist with diagnosis. To add a recording to a patient's EMR, healthcare providers can use audio recording software or hardware that is integrated with the EMR system. The recording can then be uploaded to the patient's file in the EMR system.

Accessing the EMR Viewing Function of HIPAA

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) provides guidelines for protecting patient information in EMRs. The EMR viewing function of HIPAA allows healthcare providers to view patient information while ensuring that patient privacy is protected. To access the EMR viewing function of HIPAA, healthcare providers must have proper authorization and login credentials to access the EMR system. The EMR system should also have security measures such as firewalls, encryption, and access controls to ensure that patient information is protected.

Patient Control of Digital Medical Records

Patients have the right to control their own digital medical records. This means that patients can request a copy of their medical records from their healthcare provider and choose who has access to their records. Patients can also request that incorrect information be corrected in their EMR files. Some healthcare organizations also allow patients to access their own EMR through a patient portal, which gives them more control over their medical information. Patient control of digital medical records is an essential component of patient-centered care.


In summary, Electronic Medical Records (EMRs) have transformed the healthcare industry by simplifying the storage, access, and management of patient information. EMRs provide numerous advantages over traditional paper-based medical records, such as improved patient care, increased patient safety, and enhanced communication among healthcare providers. It is essential for healthcare providers and patients to collaborate in protecting and utilizing patient information appropriately.

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