Whether you’re visiting your primary care physician or undergoing a liver transplant, electronic medical/health records (EMR/EHR) are at the forefront of medicine today.
With an EMR system, your health care provider can record patient information electronically rather than using the old-school method of pen and paper. The intent of EMR is to streamline and improve health care quality. Generally, it’s more secure than handwritten patient notes, as it’s stored remotely. Plus, it’s instantly accessible to health professionals during emergencies.
EMR ensures patient records are more comprehensive – and more legible. The technology is faster. Whether it uses voice recognition software or information is entered by the practitioner on a tablet, diagnosis and treatment time is cut considerably.
For example, consider a comatose patient found lying on the street. Through identification found on his or her person, including the individual’s name, address, and perhaps an insurance card, emergency personnel can tap into the person’s EMR and, if indicated, begin to treat the condition.
Another example: your primary care physician can electronically forward a prescription to your pharmacy, so you may be able to pick up your prescription immediately without a long wait or expensive delivery costs.
The negatives? EMR systems remain prohibitively expensive for smaller medical practices. As well, there’s a steep learning curve when an EMR system is first implemented. Learning their way around it can take time many doctors don’t have.
Although EMR generally reduces the possibility of error, mistakes can-and do-occur. Hurried cutting and pasting can result in skipped or repeated information, leading to confusion and miscommunication.
That said, the pros generally outweigh the cons and, in any case, EMR is here to stay in one form or another. Consider that not too far in the future, all your medical information may be contained on a chip embedded in your health card and easily accessible when needed.