The world of healthcare is constantly evolving as new technology and innovation becomes available. Finding new ways to improve medical care that is provided to patients is the main concern. One new advancement that is really creating some buzz involves the adoption or implementation of electronic health records. When you think of health records the first thing that comes to mind is often a typical handwritten patient chart, but now digital versions are accessible. Are electronic health records something that can positively impact medical care?
Pros of Electronic Medical Records
There are always two sides to every issue or topic and electronic health records are no different. However, the case for the use of electronic health records in medical facilities is quite overwhelming. These digital records have the ability to transform the type of care that patients receive and go far beyond just offering a new level of convenience. Below you will find just a few of the most beneficial reasons why electronic health records are essential.
1. Ease of Use
A major benefit of electronic medical records is the ability for doctors and medical staff to access patient data. As long as you are authorized to view patient records, you have the ability to instantly gain access to full medical history of that patient and an in-depth look at their chart. Entering patient information is also made simpler and software is designed to ensure that mistakes are not made. For example, many EHR software applications do not allow you to progress to the next page of charting until all current data fields are completed. This helps to minimize mistakes and allows for patient charting to be more thorough and effective.
2. Single Set of Records
One of the biggest advantages of electronic health records is that all patient information is consolidated into one easily accessible record. This means that patient history, test results, medical imaging and so much more can be consolidated into just one set of health records that you can instantly access with approved authorization. This helps to save time and allows for patients to get faster care. Consolidated patient records are the wave of the future and can have a huge impact on current healthcare standards.
3. Better Collaboration
Many patients have more than one medical professional that is overseeing their current health condition. This means that these medical professionals need a way to better collaborate with one another to come up with a treatment plan that will be most effective. Collaboration among doctors in different facilities can be vastly improved with electronic medical records that can be sent electronically and viewed instantly. This enables patient care to become much better than in the past.
Cons of Electronic Health Records
Although the above mentioned benefits of electronic health records do stand out, there are still some downsides that need to be given attention. Not everything surrounding the use of electronic medical records can be seen as a positive. There are some negative aspects that are getting more attention from those that are opposed to the use of electronic medical records. Before you decide that electronic is the way to go, it might be a good idea to take a closer look at the cons associated with electronic health records.
1. Lack of Security
One of the biggest cons involving the use of electronic health records can be linked to lack of security or privacy. Health or medical records are designed to be completely confidential and secure. This means that they should not be stored in a way that makes them easy to interfere with or gain access without authorized authority. However, lack of privacy is a major concern that can be seen with the use of electronic health records. Simply using EHR software can make any medical facility more prone to risk of the medical records getting breeched. The convenience and immediacy of electronic health records are what make them so much more vulnerable than typical written patient files. This means that privacy concerns are a major issue involving electronic health records that needs to be addressed before this new system can be adopted fully.
Another concern that is often brought up by those opposed to electronic health records is the need for higher amounts of training for medical staff. Using electronic health record software is not as straightforward you might assume. It is actually quite complex and requires all medical staff to be fully trained. This type of training requires more time and money, which can raise medical costs. Those that are looking to cut the costs of healthcare feel that electronic health records do not offer enough substantial benefits to warrant the need for increased training among medical professionals. It is also impossible to expect medical staff to use electronic health records effectively if they are not trained properly.
3. Potential Loss of Data
The final negative aspect associated with electronic health record use is a major concern. Data loss is something that is extremely possible if all health records are kept using an electronic system alone. It is possible to have your software backed up in the event of data loss, but this does not get rid of the concern completely. A computer crash has the potential to wipe out all the health records for your patients that you have been accumulating for years., If your data is not adequately protected the results could be devastating to your practice.
What Are Electronic Health Records?
The fact is, electronic health records are much more advanced than just ordinary digital versions of a patient chart. They are real-time health records that are secure and can only be accessed by qualified and authorized medical professionals. They also have complete and update patient history, but can go far beyond just typical collected data. This means that medical professionals can use electronic health records that are equipped with evidence-based tools to make better decisions about patient care or treatment options.
In the past, all patient charts and health records were recorded by hand and kept in a file for future reference. Gaining access to these charts was not instantaneous and sharing medical information was more complex as a result. With new software technology it is easier than ever before to collaborate with other medical professionals or look at patient history. Technology is what electronic health records are infused with and many feel that this change can help positively improve current medical care.
Split Opinions on Topic of Electronic Health Records
You would think that a move toward innovation and technology would be welcomed in the world of medicine, but not everyone is in agreement with the use of electronic health records. Before you come to your own conclusion on the topic it is a good idea to become informed fully. Taking a closer look at both the pros and cons surrounding the use of medical health records can help you to finally develop and unbiased opinion on the topic. If you weigh the pros and cons against one another it is easier to see which side of the argument has a stronger case.