If there is one crucial thing that COVID-19 has brought with it is the increased understanding of the importance of proper healthcare systems. If you have recently visited a hospital or a doctor’s clinic, you will have noticed that almost all the patient files and records are now being maintained online on a computer or a laptop. The paradigm shift to a paperless system has taken a while to enter into the medical community. However, electronic health records (EHR) have taken over the medium at large. The overall goal of this shift was to ensure the smooth and hassle-free treatment of patients with equal care for all. EHRs have provided the healthcare ecosystem a great way to transfer information electronically.
What is an EHR
The main purpose and vision of an Electronic Health Record would be to quickly and efficiently consolidate a person's individual medical charts into digital documents. This information can be accessed with the proper EHR software and can be updated in real-time – even as the doctors see and treat their patients. This record will contain any information that the medical professionals and their patients see as relevant. It can have a detailed history of all the data, medications, allergies, testing images, diagnosis, lab results, etc., that an individual may have conducted over the past years.
This makes it easy for doctors to check and access the history and add any new information to avoid medical mismanagement. A significant benefit of EMR is providing physicians and other healthcare providers with the proper tools to ensure that a person is treated well and with utmost care without neglecting any vital information.
Benefits of EHR
In the last decade, the use of electronic systems to input data in the medical field has grown. This graph showed a much larger upward trend, especially during COVID, where the benefits of EHR were highlighted with much force. The power of data online was becoming more easily understood and greatly adopted. Since the data field is now moving towards an automated era, it is becoming easier to adopt them in many different tasks around medicine. With this technology, clinicians can share information and tests to practice in tandem and provide the patient with the best quality of care they deserve.
System EHR benefits also ensure that each clinician has the updated version of a patient’s records and history as the platform is updated to have the current, complete, and correct version of the patient’s file. Based on the platform that you are using, you can also have it customised to suit your needs and make sure that it is user-friendly so that you do not have to deal with any technical issues in understanding and operating the platform.
- One place to find all your records – The most meaningful way to use the EMR benefits would be by ensuring that all the essential and relevant documents are in one place instead of being scattered in the form of papers everywhere. A digital record of medical information makes it possible for you to find what you need quickly instead of searching through files of different doctors at home. Additionally, when speaking to your medical professional, having one place to store all the records will also make the sharing and receiving of information more efficient. It can help the clinician make better decisions with complete knowledge.
- Protection against Disaster – Most people with a long and detailed history of doctor visits would have tattered and worn-out files. The print on papers and images from old tests also fade with time, leaving a faint print to read. Moreover, certain calamities that are out of the control of people, like water damage, fires, earthquakes, etc., can also lead to the permanent destruction of the paper trail. It can be particularly catastrophic. Avoid these issues by having a digitised record of the medical files. You can have a backup of all the digital information on your email so that in an unfortunate event where the devices may be destroyed, you may still be able to open and access the information.
- Access only to authorised users – Many people are worried about the safety and security of uploading their personal and detailed information on online platforms as they are worried that it will fall into the wrong hands. You can ensure that your information is password protected. EHR system benefits can be encrypted, and you can make sure that you remember and share your password only with the concerned professionals. Initiatives by the Indian Government, like the ABHA card, is a digitised platform that uses an individual's consent by asking for their 14-digit unique identification number.
Only upon sharing this number the concerned person can access the information that is entered on these platforms. Another way is that only the people in the hospital who use the same software can access the information with the help of an encrypted patient code.
4. Improved patient care – The primary motive for beginning an initiative that digitised patient records and information was to provide better and improved patient care. Since the doctors can get a comprehensive view of the patient, their history, files, images, data, etc., it becomes easier to track their progress which can help with diagnosis and treatment. Having a single and continuous record can provide a holistic view which assists with a better prognosis. A benefit of an EHR system is that there is better coordination of care among the medical community as they can share information that can help in distressing and emergency cases. EHRs also help streamline the workflow by cutting down paperwork.
5. Paper Records Subject to Tampering – Paper records are more prone to mistakes and errors and can be easily tampered with by anyone who has access to them. If a nurse or a technician can access the data, they may be able to change the numbers or readings – creating a cascading flow of errors that can lead to devastating outcomes. Avoid this disaster by adopting a digital approach wherein selected people can access particular patient records leaving them less susceptible to tampering.
Different people also maintain paper records, this is another source of error where, at times, illegible handwriting can cause a person to make an unwanted mistake that can result in compromised patient care.
The benefit of electronic medical records is plenty. It provides seamless communication between the doctor and the patient and also helps professionals communicate with each other. The system aims to provide consistency in the medical community and bridge the gap between access to healthcare among people of different backgrounds as well. The electronic systems are not only made for doctors but for the citizens of the country as well to be able to store and record their data and share it with any relevant person. Upgrade yourself and your technology to use the best possible features launched for your benefit!