Shadowing a physician in Haymarket, Virginia, I remember first encountering a practice using an Electronic Medical Record system. Prior to that experience, I’ve always went to health clinics that had health records on paper. When the physician I was shadowing was on her laptop, I asked what software she was using. She responded, “It’s an EMR system. It basically has all our patient’s records, we can easily send prescriptions to pharmacies, can see when our patients arrive, and much more!” I was surprised of the EMR system because I have never heard of it before and was so intrigued by its capabilities. But what specifically is an EMR?
Electronic Medical Record Software (EMR) is a computer application that helps manage clinicals, finances, and administrative tasks of a healthcare organization (New Wave Enterprises LLC). The purpose of EMRs is to reduce workload and keep work efficiency high (New Wave Enterprises LLC). In more detail, EMRs are installed on a central server and then are able to connect via a network to computers, laptops, tablet computers, and PDAs (New Wave Enterprises LLC). EMR software, “integrates with the organization’s existing billing software and allow the caregiver to see the patient’s check in/check out routine, submit CPT/ICD information to the billing software, assist the caregiver in decision-making by suggesting treatment plan recommendations, and generate reports” (New Wave Enterprises LLC). Examples of popular EMR software companies include Logician EMR, Medinotes, Greenway, Visionary MD, Medcomsoft, and Mysis EMR (New Wave Enterprises LLC).
ARRA and HITECH Act
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) was signed into law by President Obama in order to jumpstart the U.S economy (Federal Emergency Management Agency). The Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act was enacted as part of the ARRA in order to, “promote the adoption and meaningful use of health information” (U.S Department of Health & Human Services). Under subtitle D of the HITECH Act, it addresses privacy and security issues with transmitting health information electronically (U.S Department of Health & Human Services). As one can see, these acts provide the stepping stone in computerizing all of Americans’ health records. It leads to the question though, should we computerize all Americans’ health records using the EMR system in 5 years?
Should we Transition to an EMR System?
I believe that having Americans’ health records on paper have many limitations which can be corrected by using an EMR system. There are definitely some pros and cons of having an EMR system but I do believe the advantages outweigh the disadvantages. As a nation, we are all trying to move towards a more unified health care system. Having all medical records under an EMR system would help us more towards this goal. Here are the advantages and also some disadvantages of using an EMR system in a health...