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What Is an Electronic Health Record?

by GMDP September 26 2021

The healthcare industry is continually adapting to today’s technology-dominated world. One great example of this is incorporating Electronic Health Records or EHRs into healthcare systems. Patients are now more involved in monitoring their health because, with just a few clicks on their smartphones, they can now see their health records. EHR systems provide physicians and their patients a channel for safe, efficient, and accessible storage of their health records. 


But before this digital innovation, managing patient records was not as easy.


History of the electronic health record


Back in 1960, healthcare facilities mainly focused on clinical data management. From there, the development of electronic health records and electronic medical records has emerged. In 1972, the FIRST electronic medical record was developed. However, the system did not appear appealing to physicians due to its high cost. The system was used by government hospitals instead. 


The Institute of Medicine in 1991 mandated a case that by the year 2000, healthcare providers’ offices should be integrating computers into their practice to improve patient care. With that, Electronic Health Records have emerged more. 


During the 2000s, a new generation of EHRs around security requirements was built. The ability to access health records remotely has been the most appealing key feature to physicians and their practice. 


In 2010, Hospital-owned outpatient clinics had a 54.5% EHR adoption rate. 29% of privately-owned healthcare facilities were using EHRs.


In 2015, Hospital clinics attained a 92% adoption rate. However, due to some final restrictions, Independent clinics’ adoption rate is just nearly 80 percent.


In the present time, the Electronic Health Records system is more advanced, aside from collating the health records of patients, the system can now assist in patient monitoring and management, billing and payments, and scheduling of appointments. 



What EHRs do


Needless to say, bulky paper records are inefficient and time-consuming. When a patient urgently needs information from his health record, it would be a hassle for healthcare staff to go through multiple papers just to find it. It would be difficult for both patients and healthcare providers. 

This is where Electronic health records play a huge part. The benefits of this system provide numerous positive outcomes to the healthcare industry as a whole. 



  1. Access to healthcare information 


Since the 1960s, electronic healthcare records have given both patients and physicians access to the patient's health records. This record contains vital information of the patients including their medical history, demographics, and other clinical notes. This leads to a more patient-based approach by healthcare providers. 


By integrating modern technology and techniques to the current electronic health records systems, acquiring information is now faster and easier. Sharing information across different physicians has also been simplified. 


  1. All healthcare information in a single place


Healthcare staff do not need to worry about misplacing a document much unlike before. Electronic health records systems use cloud-based storage that automatically saves and files documents. 


All records are now well-organized and easy to scan. This system is important for physicians to make crucial decisions that are time-bound. No time will be wasted anymore. 


  1. Reduced Medical Errors 


When information is ready the moment physicians need it, medical errors will surely be reduced. Electronic health records are more accurate in providing information and values. Whether it may be lab test results, medications, and prescriptions, or emergency health information. Problems that are addressed immediately make a huge impact on a patient's health. 


  1. Financial Savings


EHRs are considered to be an investment that is good for a healthcare facility in the long run. With an all-in-one system, facilities can save up on manpower and storage rentals. There will be little to no use in printing paper documents as well. Not only does a facility save money but also, time. Which is equally important as well. 


  1. No more paper charts

 

When healthcare facilities switch to EHRs instead of paper charts, they stick to their value of being more environmentally friendly. 


There is no need for multiple healthcare staff to scan through documents, only one person can now view the information. EHRs safely store health records that can be easily accessed anytime. Illegibility and hard-to-read documents will no longer be a problem. This prevents misfiled charts and miscommunication among healthcare providers also. 



Comparison with paper-based records


Given the numerous benefits of EHRs, unfortunately, some healthcare providers are still unsure and not convinced on why they should make the switch from paper to electronic records. If you are one of the physicians who are still having second thoughts about Electronic health records, we have listed the differences between paper-based records and electronic health records.


  1. Security

Healthcare providers have the responsibility to keep the confidentiality of the records of their patients. Both paper and electronic records have the possibility of being compromised. In paper records, documents can be stolen or misfiled. While electronic records are prone to cyberattacks and data breaches. 


  1. Illegibility

In healthcare, it is very important that patients fully understand what is going on with their own health. Known to many, some or most physician’s penmanship is difficult to read and comprehend. Paper records tend to have a small space for physicians to write down their clinical notes and that leads to miscommunication. EHRs are typewritten and with no restrictions for space. This system solves the problem of illegibility. 


  1. Cost

Admittedly, a system of electronic health records is not the cheapest investment physicians can have. Physicians have to purchase cloud storage and other needed extensions in order to experience full access to EHR systems. In contrast, paper records are costly when it comes to storage and administrative needs. Such as manpower, training, and equipment used in the printing of documents. 


  1. Time


As mentioned earlier, healthcare providers can not just save financially but also in time. 

Other than healthcare staff being more prone to burnout when they are doing labor-intensive tasks such as sorting and storing bulky paper records, but more importantly, delay in providing information can have serious repercussions. EHRs though can provide quick and accurate life-saving information. In just a few clicks, physicians can have the information they need anytime and anywhere they may please. 


  1. Environmental


Depending on the case of a patient, their usual health records contain at least a hundred pages. For extreme cases, it may run to thousands of papers. This obviously has an adverse effect on the environment. Healthcare facilities should ensure that they are eco-friendly and responsible for the environment. 


Electronic health records, on the other hand, provides a digital solution that saves trees and other environmental resources used in producing paper-based records. 



Takeaway


Understandable, switching to electronic records when your whole facility is used to paper records can feel risky. There are also a few things you must take into account. Electronic records are easier to access and more secure especially during unwanted natural disasters. 


EHRs can also be a more accurate basis compared to paper records. Human errors and illegibility can be reduced with the use of this system. With the help of technology, patients can be more at ease because a system is keeping their records safe. 


Electronic health records, just like any other technology-driven systems will continue to evolve and improve as time goes by. With this, EHRs will continue to have a huge impact on the healthcare industry. 


Healthcare facilities are adopting this system, with a goal in mind - to further improve patient satisfaction and outcomes. Yet not only is electronic health records beneficial to patients but to healthcare providers as well. Integrating EHR systems in your practice will also be of great help to healthcare staff. And overall, improve the quality of the facility. 




If you’ve been wanting to explore EHRs but are not sure if you should invest now or some other time, worry no more, Global MD Plus has a FREE 30-day trial for physicians to experience full access to their Electronic Health Records system. 


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