My brother is a pulmonary specialist. My father was a pediatrician. Although I have some training in medicine, my primary expertise is medical technology. I’m also a patient and while recently changing doctors I needed my records transferred to my primary care physician. Thankfully my new doctor had an EMR in place and was able to take my records, scan them into the system and instantly have access to my prescriptions and past medical history. From my perspective, this is why Electronic Medical Records are needed.
Like any other record keeping, moving patients’ records from paper to computers creates great efficiencies for not only the patient but a for providers and health payment systems as well. For me, access to good care becomes easier and safer when records can be easily shared. Information like blood type, medication, and past history can be accounted for quickly and easily. Let’s not forget that this access can be lifesaving if an emergency occurs and the information is needed during the emergency decision-making process.
In disasters like Hurricane Katrina or 911, the benefits of electronic systems like EMRs are evident because doctors treating the victims could access their records from a regional storage facility and treat the patient with more certainty than before. Veterans’ hospitals share an electronic system called VistA, which allows for sharing of records for veterans in its health system. Although not perfected, it is certainly a good start.
Safety is one of the key tenets of EMRs. Sometimes when I fill out a form at a doctor’s office I forget to write down some of my prescriptions and medical history. I think that is common around the world. This piece of the puzzle can now be solved with the provider’s access to your past history if electronic records are available. The physicians I work with are happy to find the information they need about patients. They realize that depending on the compulsiveness, diligence, and commitment of individual practitioners that some of the information in the electronic medical record is not up to their standards. Some notes are useful and trustworthy while others might be lacking in uniformity and details. These are problems that will be ironed out over time but we have to start somewhere.
When people change physicians so frequently because of new health plans or relocation, patient records could easily be misplaced or lost. Keeping these records electronically in an EMR and giving access to the patient, is a wonderful benefit that has come about in the last several years. And money is saved, not just on paper and file folders, but the cost of labor and space as well. Time equals money in a physician practice and the efficiencies created by simply typing a few identifying keystrokes to retrieve a patients record is worth the effort. There will come a time when Electronic Medical Records (EMR) are standard in all healthcare facilities. Until then, there will be a steep learning curve.
We all know that this transformation will be painful for a while but limiting mistakes and improving the issues of privacy and security will take precedence over the pain. Doctors need Electronic Medical Record (EMRs) to better serve their patients and simplify their practce.
Iron Comet Consulting is a certified Platinum Reseller for McKesson and is located in Stockbridge Georgia. We are a full service medical IT and billing company. We specialize in electronic medical record (EMR) technology and implementation.