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Paper-based records have been used for centuries and their steady substitution by electronic records has been continuing for the past few decades.
These forms of electronic records are known as Electronic Medical Records (EMR) and are the future of medical records. Though it is an expensive for of record keeping, EHR holds major advantages over paper records. EMRs are computer-based records that can be accessed by medical personnel, patients, and other stakeholders in the health sector.
Advantages of EMR
EMRs make it possible to access a patient’s medical history and health information at any place, as long the necessary hardware and software systems are available. This is in contrast to paper records that are always locked up in some cabinet and cannot be accessed anywhere (Smaltz & Eta, 2007).
Due to the ease of access, EMRs can bring a patient’s total health information together in one place, and which can be updated easily hence improving the quality of care provided to patients. It also allows for coordination between clinicians and health institutions regarding a patient’s health.
Patient Privacy in EMRs
EMRs are vulnerable to security breaches, similar to all forms of electronic data. Anyone with appropriate login can access EMRs, besides, a person can ‘steal’ login details over an unprotected network and have access to health records. One point that should be stressed on is that even though EMRs may not be 100% secure, neither is paper.
Patient privacy is still important nonetheless since privacy is a constitutional right of every citizen. Security of patient health records can be improved by integrating several security features such as using logins, biometric systems and securing network connections, these features can make EMRs more secure than paper records (Thede, 2010).
Effectiveness of EMRs in Patient-Consumer Communication
EMRs can support better follow-up information for patients – for example, after a clinical visit or hospital stay, instructions and information for the patient can be effortlessly provided without the patient having to travel to the provider. Besides, reminders and follow-up care can be sent easily or even automatically to the patient.
EHR differs from other communication methods in the way information is sent and accessed by both the patient and the care provider. In using paper records, a patient has to go to the institution to access health information, however, EMRs can be accessed anywhere and information interchange can take place effortlessly.
Besides, medical personnel can use various methods to check for trends such as re-infections or an error in previous treatments patient’s medical records.
These methods include graphs, curves and analytic tools that incorporate parameters such as BMI and age. The system can also predict when a medical condition will recur next, and even the most effective treatment alternatives. Paper records cannot provide this additional information.
Social networking and electronic media can bring great improvements in communication. For instance, care providers can create a common platform where they can exchange and discuss information relating to their profession. This information can include the latest trends in healthcare, disease outbreaks, and innovations. This can bring lots of progress into care delivery.
Use of EMR in Marketing Care Products or Services
Since patients and care providers can exchange information easily and effortlessly once the required software and hardware are availed, it is possible to send information to patients regarding the latest healthcare products and services. Patients can discus the effectiveness of these products and services with professionals before opting to use them, hence, EMR can be used as a marketing tool.
Smaltz, D. and Eta B. (2007). The Executive’s Guide to Electronic Health Records.
Chicago: Health Administration Press
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Thede, L. (2010.) Informatics: Electronic Health Records: A Boon or Privacy Nightmare? The Online Journal of Issues in Nursing Vol. 15, No. 2.