An Electronic Medical Record (EMR) is a computerized legal document used as a storage for medical information history of a particular patient. These are created by organizations such as the healthcare providers like hospitals, medical clinics etc. These documents are the property of the medical provider that prepares them but the patient owns the information contained therein and has the right to view the originals as well as obtaining copies (under the law).
With the current advancement of Information Technology, the Electronic Medical Record mode should not only be encouraged but should be made mandatory as their advantages outweigh their disadvantages.
The following is documented evidence as to why Electronic Medical Records (EMR) should be made compulsory:-
(a)Authentication and assurance
(k)Time saving methods
(a)Authentication and assurance; The inclusion of the electronic signature space provided for in an EMR makes it substantially very easy to track and locate the signer for any clarification assurance that they arise pertaining a certain patient.
(b) Life-saving; EMRs can help to monitor clinical events by analyzing a patient’s data to determine , detect and potentially prevent adverse effects thus are an effective way to save lives.
© Speed; This is a vital and major phenomenon in all health care related facilities. This is because with healthcare comes emergencies which not only require speed but accuracy and effectives as far as life-saving is concerned. Speed in medical practices is equivalent to the ability to compete especially in information management. EMR require less time to be invested in trouble-shooting and allows more precious time to be invested constructively in patient care.
(d) Storage; An EMR database is capable of storing or carrying large volumes of data (information) that a normal traditional system cannot. An EMR can also facilitate management of records from multiple locations (offices) as well as multiple types of records.
(e) Security; Confidentiality to all health-care records for any one particular patient should highly be regarded and respected. Therefore accessibility to a patient’s EMR should only be possible to authorized personnel and with EMR this is not only achievable but practical. In case of emergences, an EMR maintains a back-up copy and this ensures reliable and virus-free source of patient information.
Medical records are vulnerable to wear, tear and getting misplaced. With EMR, all above is a thing of the past as they (EMR) improves the quality of care for medical records, minimizes costs as well as risks. The EMRs system of data collection is also very effective and easy to use.
(f)Accessibility; With the modern technology advancement coupled with EMR reference, it’s very easy to browse the medical information about a particular patient directly and authorized personnel /individuals can access this information online. The EMR provides easy access to customer care from the medical billing specialist to both the consumer (patient ) and the provider ( hospital).
(g)Efficiency; Life is vital to all human beings and thus with healthcare efficiency and expertise go hand in hand. The two are not an option as this is what determines the quality of treatment a patient gets from any health-care facility.
(h)Manageability; EMR is a user friendly version and thus easy to learn and understand. EMR also includes the high quality documents which can easily be audited owing to its organized format. EMR represents the ability to easily share medical information among the stakeholders (patients, practitioners and hospitals) and to have a patient’s information follow him/her through the various modalities of care engaged by the individual.
(i) Cost Effective; With the EMR , data is stored in digital format and therefore saves a lot of storage-space which would otherwise be needed to store large volumes of files containing medical records of patients. The health-care facilities have a paperless EMR environment as no paper work is required /needed. Clinical information can also be readily shared via electronic transactions or exchange of electronic records with all concerned within a regional health care network ( i.e other hospitals, ambulatory , clinics employers, patients etc)
(j) Accuracy; EMRs contain clinical data , repository, clinical decision support, order entry , computerized provider order entry , pharmacy and clinical documentation application thus ensuring that the practitioners who use/access them are assured of accurate and comparable medical data through the controlled medical vocabulary necessary for the patient’s safety and reducing/eliminating any medical errors.
(k)Proper co-ordination; With the EMR records being stored on the network is quite advantageous and helpful in the sense that this offers a smooth coordination between the medical team. Easier data editing and updating by the staff is catered for and thus there are less chances of erring due to mis-communication. Duplication of a patient’s medical information, testing and incorrect prescription of medication can also be avoided.
(l) Time Saving method; The EMR system saves a lot of time say for example a new medical staff is able to access all the necessary and required information about a certain information by using the patient’s name. The medical staff can then pass on that information via email to others concerned thus ensuring a quick and efficient way of transferring patient’s reports and enabling the practitioners to take necessary action at the same time. This also saves time for the patients in that they don’t have to wait for a long time say in the Emergency Room (ER) to get hospital admission as their data records are accessible and transferable instantaneously between the databases thus providing faster and better treatment.
To sum it all , an EMR can be understood to purposely be a complete record a patient encounters with that allows automation of information and streamlines the workflow in a healthcare facility increasing safety through evidence based decision making and assistance , providing quality management outcome and accountable reporting.