Behind the scenes, one of the most important aspects of patient care is record keeping. Having a patient’s medical history, allergies, medications, and other data available can speed diagnosis or even save lives.
Now more and more medical facilities are moving over to electronic medical records systems. This is partly because the new heathcare reform program contains elements designed to encourage the switch, but mostly it’s because EMR has many important benefits.
With EMR, records are available to healthcare professionals immediately, and from anywhere. Records maintained electronically can easily be shared among members of a patient’s treatment team, and can be transferred quickly and easily if a patient has to change doctors.
The records can also be easily updated, so any change—in condition, in medication, in diagnosis, in status, or in anything else—can be noted immediately and accurately. EMR makes it significantly easier to keep track of a patient’s treatment and progress, so everyone is on the same page.
Electronic records are also more durable. They can be stored in multiple locations without taking up space, meaning there’s no need to get rid of records after a certain amount of time. This helps ensure that no important information is lost. If an important notation or bit of information is added to the file early on, an electric system helps ensure that personnel have access to that information, if they need it, for quite some time after.
There are some risks of electronic records. Privacy may be a concern, although medical record-keeping is very tightly regulated and access strictly controlled. In general, records should not fall into the wrong hands, and there is no reason to suspect electronic records would be more vulnerable in this regard.
On the whole, electronic medical records streamline the bureaucratic bits of the treatment process while making the important parts more efficient. That means better outcomes for patients and better-run practices for doctors, a success story all around.