Paper-Based Versus Electronic Medical Record Keeping
For many years, physicians’ offices documented all data in paper-based medical charts. Now, the physician or clinician records the medical data into a computer. Information stored in this manner is known as an electronic-based medical record or EMR. By definition, an EMR is a computerized record of the important health information regarding a patient including the care of that individual and the progress of that patient’s condition (Bonewit-West, Hunt, & Applegate, 2009). The use of computers in physicians’ offices is not new. For decades, physicians have used computers and practice management software primarily to schedule appointments and for billing. The government has offered physicians incentives designed to encourage the adoption of electronic medical records to promote medical information accessibility, better patient care, greater efficiency, and financial savings (Hamilton, 2010). In the face of advancing technology, small medical offices must compare the cost, ease of use, and maintenance of electronic medical record systems versus paper-based record keeping. The cost of keeping paper-based and electronic medical records is not just about the actual price tag of the record-keeping systems. The cost of keeping an electronic medical record system (EMR) begins with the initial purchase and implementation of the hardware and EMR software. There are also ongoing maintenance expenses, loss of revenue associated with temporary loss of productivity due to converting paper charts to electronic ones, and the training of the staff (Menachemi & Collum, 2011). The way these record systems are stored is very different and can greatly affect the cost as well. EMR records are stored on a server, digitally, in a secure computer database within the office practice (Hamilton, 2010). On the other hand, the cost of keeping a paper-based medical record requires...
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