Advantages of Electronic Health Record System

In our society today, computers are ubiquitous. They have been used to simplify our lives and make our work easier and more accurate. In order to be a part of this fast spreading technology the medical industry is on its way to do away with the pen and paper system and embrace computers to keep and track patient medical records, hence electronic health record.

When an individual goes to his or her doctor with a complaint the doctor will obtain information from the patient in an attempt to build a complete story of the origin and probable causes of the complaint. Information obtained from the patient will include the patients past and present medical history, laboratory results, previous medical conditions and medications prescribed, radiological images etc., all make up the patients medical records. This information when put in a digital format is known as the individual’s electronic health record.

The present administration has made it a priority to move ahead with centralizing and putting patients’ medical record in digital format. A huge chunk of the economic recovery stimulus package has been earmarked for this project. It is hoped that when all is said and done, electronic medical records, a better way to keep records than pen and paper will be the order of the day.

Just like any new approach to doing things, EHR (Electronic Health Records) has its advantages and disadvantages. The advantages of Electronic medical record keeping includes:-

Better documentation

Doctors are legendary for illegible hand writings leading to inaccurate data entry by a second or third party. With EHR this problem will mostly become a thing of the past.

Lower Cost

It is hoped that the use of EHR will reduce healthcare cost in the long run and promote evidence based care. As information is readily available, and easily and quickly referred to before proceeding with the best treatment option, resources will be saved as the patient’s sick period is reduced.

Better storage

Huge amounts of information can be stored in digital format taking up a minuscule amount of space thereby eliminating file storage problems that presently exists with the pen and paper system.

Easy retrieval of information

With information in a digital format it is fast and easy to retrieve information saving time and manpower. With patients medical records just a mouse click away, Individuals previously involved in locating and retrieving files will be redeployed to other positions.

Reduced malpractice insurance premiums

With the legible and accurate documentation an electronic health record system provides, insurance companies tend to reduce malpractice premium for institutions using EHR system. Also in cases of litigation the information trail is easy to follow and will make a difference in the outcome of a case if things were ambiguous.

Increased level of medical care

With the patients complete medical record a few clicks away, a physician has immediate access to the patient’s medical information allowing for a faster and better response to providing medical care.

Accurate record keeping

EHR makes it easy to keep accurate records of who has access to patient’s information, when it was accessed and by whom. And when alterations are made to a patients record you can find out who altered it and when.

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Digitizing Healthcare – Where Does India Stand?

Over the past 10 years the Western world has seen an unprecedented health IT transformation. Hospitals, as well as private clinics, have moved from the traditional paper-based systems to one where the patients have a digital record of their medical conditions and treatments. The enabler has obviously been a dramatic uptake of electronic health records (EHR / EMR).

According to a data gathered in 2016 – over 95% of hospitals and nearly 80% of physicians in USA used EMR systems. The prevailing ecosystem is pushing both these numbers rapidly even more close to the 100% mark. Only 7 years prior (2009), the data stood at – under 10% hospitals and 17% physicians using electronic medical records systems. Even though the primary push to these numbers was triggered by government legislations – the impact on society and medical fraternity are the main benefits.

In India – technology has rapidly changed our lives over the last decade. We have seen one of the most rapid adoptions of mobile and internet, and prices are amongst the lowest in the world. Even people living below poverty line consider mobile phone as a ‘must have’ – believing it to be an equalizer. On the other hand, however – the patient consultation process for a doctor remains largely traditional (historic) – paper based. While all of us expect, and demand, banking, payments, tax filings, diverse information access, train, taxi, air and even cinema bookings over the internet, our expectations in the management of health – our most important asset – have been surprisingly muted.

India has nearly 100,000 organized healthcare setups – including government and corporate hospitals, health centers, and nursing homes of various sizes. India also has nearly a million private clinics. While many large hospitals, and government run health centers in some states, have installed systems to capture patient & prescription details, no one is even thinking of the unorganized healthcare sector – being catered to by the million or so clinics. The only thing available in the name of being ‘digital’ – for most metros and cities – is various doctor search sites and apps.

The core of digital healthcare, an electronic medical records system, that both doctors and patients have access to – a Public EMR – is simply not available. Is this something we can avoid for too long? Certainly not. Yes, there will always be people who consider letter writing as an act of ink hitting people – but rest of the world has moved to email and instant messaging. How rapidly will healthcare go digital?

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