Electronic Medical Records systems lie at the center of any computerized health information system, without them other modern technologies, such as decision support systems cannot be effectively integrated into routine clinical workflow. The paperless, inter-operable, multi-provider, multi-specialty, multi-discipline computer medical record, which has been a goal for many researchers, healthcare professionals, administrators, and politicians for the past 20+ years is however about to become a reality in many western countries. The Obama administration has proposed, as part of the effort to revive the economy, a massive effort to modernize healthcare by making all health records standardized and electronic by 2014.
An electronic medical record (EMR) is a patient medical record in digital form. The digital information is stored in a database and is accessible from everywhere. A provider would have immediate access to key information, such as diagnoses, allergies, test results and medications. An EMR captures data at the point of care, making it possible to integrate data from multiple internal and external sources. The ability for all providers participating in the care of a patient in multiple settings to quickly access new and past test results would increase patient safety and the effectiveness of care.
There are many benefits of using an EMR system:
1) EMRs make health care cost efficient. EMRs consolidate all data in one place. Previously, paper-based records are at different places at different times. Getting access to them takes a lot of time and effort. Time and money spent on phone calls, faxes, emails obtaining these records from other places can be saved. Sometimes, medical tests have already been done over again, incurring unnecessary costs to the patient and the healthcare system.
2) EMRs keep records safe. Paper records can be easily lost. Fires, floods and other natural disasters have destroyed medical records for many years, data which is lost forever. Digital records can be stored virtually forever and can be kept long after the physical records are gone.
3) EMRs facilitate coordination between health care professionals. Coordination between primary care providers and care of patients has always been problematic. Paper charting leaves room for deficits in medical information exchange. The reports from hospitals generally do not get to primary providers and results in decreased quality of care after hospitalization.
4) EMRs can save lives. EMRs can save lives in unusual circumstances. EMRs can be used for disease surveillance during...