New Health Care Technology: The Major Pros and Cons of Electronic Health Records
It’s likely that electronic health records (EHR) will change the modern health care system from a paper form of record keeping to a computerized form. The record keeping is only as good as the system that supports it though. As this technology changes, we see both the negative and positive ramifications for using an electronic system. Keep reading for more information about electronic health records, and the pros and cons of going forward with this technology.
Accessibility of records
Pulling and replacing patient files takes labor. This increases chances of patient information being lost, misplaced or being chronologically out of order. Electronic health records eliminate this physical labor. With the right system, the physician can be off site and still access patient files and information, making it especially convenient.
Physician Order Entry
Diagnostic and imaging orders, labs and prescriptions can all be placed electronically, which reduces errors from doctors’ notoriously unreadable handwriting. The patient’s other physicians within the EHR network will also have access to this information. This reduces the chances of duplicate prescriptions, adverse drug interactions, and other errors.
Communication between providers can be difficult. With appropriate software, physicians can e-message from practice to practice. On the negative side, if the system has flaws, implementation of technology might only create more problems. This part of the technology is still going through fine-tuning, however if perfected, it could be extremely helpful.
Lack of integrated systems
If EHR systems between hospitals are not uniform, sharing of patient information will be difficult. Without uniformity, additional time and resource will be wasted. Although The Cloud is an extremely popular way to share information between networks, many people still worry about security. Medical information is extremely private and sensitive, so there are many concerns about the security of The Cloud.
The cost of EHR is a deterrent to its implementation and maintenance. The hardware and software are costly, as are maintenance and training time. Cost alone could be deterrent to smaller practices and clinics. Productivity and revenue also suffer while providers learn how to use the system that is designed to increase productivity.
Responsibility for Updating Records
Who is responsible for updating a patient’s records after a surgery? Is it the hospital, the surgeon, or the primary care physician? Without an integrated EHR system, proper updating of patient records can be missed.
Copying and Pasting
Physicians might rely on a copy and paste function, particularly for routine or follow up appointments. Although saving time for physicians, patients might be put at risk through improper or incorrect documentation. We often assume that computers don’t make mistakes, however, a small malfunction could create issues and confusion for both patient and doctor.
While benefitting the health care industry by freeing up time and information, there is not a reliable integrated system yet that operates on a national basis. A uniform system is still needed, which is why researchers and developers continue to work the kinks out of a flawed system like this. There’s no telling what kind of technology could come forth in the future, but an electronic system will likely become a bigger reality as time progresses and new technology emerges. The information for this article was provided by professionals at the University of Cincinnati who provide a degree in Health Information Management.
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