What an exciting time to become part of the health care industry! Medical research makes new discoveries to improve the quality of patient care and save lives on a daily basis. Health care reform is gaining momentum, revolutionizing the industry and requiring many administrative changes, such as the creation of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA). Rules and standards evolved from this act provide a way to ensure your protected health information remains confidential. In this digital age, it is particularly relevant. The digital evolution impacts many areas. Digital TVs, computers, smart phones and iPods have totally changed the way we do business and enjoy entertainment. In the medical industry, the digital evolution provided advanced imaging technology, and a variety of other significant improvements for treating patients. On the administrative side, the development of practice management programs and electronic health records streamline office workflow and helps provide patients a more efficient and cost effective experience.
The health care system faces monumental tasks in the next several years due to the overhaul of the health care system and implementation of the new diagnosis code standard, to name a few. Additionally, conversion from paper medical records to an electronic health record system requires in-depth analysis and complete understanding of the advantages and disadvantages. Only then, each health care professional can make the right decision for their medical practice. Each of these impending changes has advantages, disadvantages, HIPAA protocol standards and technical issues making full implementation and compliance a challenge for medical staff. This paper focuses on the conversion from paper medical records to electronic health records.
An electronic Health Record (EHR) contains all patient information regarding medical care from different health care professionals. Electronic retrieval of patient demographics, allergies, current medications, complete medical history, diagnostic and radiologic results, etc. occurs by clicking a few buttons. Electronic patient charts provide quick and easy access to physicians, hospitals, independent labs, and pharmacies. EHRs allow simultaneous access by independent providers and allow a collaborative effort for health care management of the patient. “EHRs are the next step in the continued progress of healthcare that can strengthen the relationship between patients and clinicians”. (Electronic Health Records Overview, 2011)
A lengthy list of EHR benefits supports the evolution from paper to electronic medical record keeping. One such benefit, the significant reduction of needed storage space. Bulky paper charts require a lot of space and misplaced charts waste time and effort to locate. Since EHR data remains on the computer, medical practices no longer require secure on-site storage, and electronic files eliminate misplacing files. Another...