Health Information Technology:
Electronic Medical Records
Metropolitan State University
For years the health care industry has explored methods to improve the way patient information is managed. Electronic medical records were developed to solve many, if not all, issues surrounding paper medical records and the management of patient information. Storage, legibility, accessibility and security of medical records are a few of the areas where electronic medical records excel over paper medical records. Instantaneous access and improved accuracy resulting from electronic medical records can greatly improve a patient’s quality of care, prevent serious harm to patients, and ultimately save lives. Financial aspects play a large role in the implementation of electronic medical records. While there are many cost-saving advantages to electronic medical records, the initial cost of implementation burdens many if not most health care facilities. This burden may prohibit health care facilities from the ability to implement electronic medical records. Overall, physicians and patients agree that electronic medical records will help improve patient care and efficiency.
Health Information Technology: Electronic Medical Records
For years the health care industry has explored methods to improve the way patient information is managed. Paper medical records are cumbersome and require a lot of storage space and personnel to maintain them. Transferring paper records between health care facilities and professionals is very tedious and time-consuming. To solve many, if not all, issues surrounding paper medical records, electronic medical records were developed. Electronic medical records relieve the issue of large warehouses of storage and tedious transferring of information, as well as many of the other concerns affiliated with paper records. While there are many advantages to electronic medical records, there are also some downfalls, such as the initial cost of implementation and the financial burden this places on healthcare facilities. Storage
According to journalist John Csiszar, hospitals and medical facilities have warehouses filled with decades-worth of paper medical records (2012, Storage section, para. 1). Paper medical records not only take up quite a bit of space, they are also not eco-friendly (Csiszar, 2012, Storage section, para. 1). Another drawback of paper medical records is that they deteriorate over time due to paper being degradable and the more a paper record is handled, the faster it deteriorates. This poses major consequences, especially for patients who have chronic medical issues that require multiple reviews of their records. Electronic medical records are far easier to store than paper records. Csiszar states, “Electronic [medical] records can be stored on computer drives that require much less space and fewer resources to produce” (2012, Storage section, para. 1). Electronic medical records can also be stored and accessed forever, without concern of deterioration, as is associated with paper medical records (Csiszar, 2012, Storage section, para. 1). This is extremely beneficial for health care providers as they are able to review patients’ medical histories repeatedly without risk of deteriorating or damaging records. Legibility
It is generally acknowledged that the readability of a hand-written document is dependent upon the penmanship of the writer. Legibility of handwriting varies with the individual. Medical terminology, especially for those unfamiliar with medicine, can be challenging to decipher in paper medical records (Csiszar, 2012, Legibility section, para. 1). This legibility problem can lead to miscommunication among health care providers and grievous errors, which in turn can lead to poor care, harm, and even death of patients. Csiszar notes, “One of the clear benefits of electronic [medical] records is that typeface is more or less standardized and...
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