The adoption of electronic health records (EHR) is on the rise. Although the finer details of this concept can be confusing, generally speaking it is nothing more than a collection of electronic information, regarding a patient or population, recorded and distributed in digital format.

By relying on electronic health records, it is easier for information to be shared across a variety of organizations. While there is no limit on the type of data that can electronic health records include, here is what it may entail:

  • Medical history
  • Medication
  • Allergies
  • Lab results
  • Radiology images
  • Personal statistics such as age, height, and weight
  • Vital signs
  • Billing information

Benefits of Electronic Health Records

Since the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) was passed in the United States in 1996, the use of electronic health records has been increasing on what seems like an annual basis.

There are many benefits associated with electronic health records, including but not limited to the following:

  • Improved care. With the help of electronic health records, physicians and other medical professionals are able to make more informed decisions.
  • Increased patient safety. In today’s day and age, there is nothing more important than this. For example, electronic health records have been proven to help in avoiding drug-allergy related issues.
  • Quicker and more efficient access to patient records. Do you remember the days when medical facilities would be forced to transfer information to another location via fax or mail? Those days are long gone. With electronic health records, it is easy to share information pertaining to a patient’s medical situation, billing, and much more.
  • Care coordination no longer takes a backseat. Many people find it necessary to jump from one doctor to the next, dealing with a variety of issues. With electronic health records, it is easy for each and every doctor and facility to share the same patient information as a means of ensuring that every party is on the same page.
  • Improved billing process. This may not have anything to do with patient care, but those providing service are sure to take full advantage of this benefit. Not only does this help the facility get paid, but it allows for the patient and insurance companies to be billed in a more timely manner

Drawbacks of Electronic Health Records

Despite the many benefits of electronic health records, there are potential drawbacks to be aware of.

Privacy is a major concern, and can be lumped into three categories:

  • Human threats, such as employees accessing information or outside hackers
  • Environmental threats ranging from floods to fires
  • Technology failure, leading to the inability to access records

Another drawback associated with electronic health records is the overall adoption and learning curve. Many facilities and employees are familiar with old processes, such as using paper charts. Making the change to an electronic system can take some time, as well as multiple training sessions.

Who Uses Electronic Health Records?

Almost everybody involved in the medical field has begun to adopt the use of electronic health records. This includes:

  • Physician offices
  • Hospitals
  • Treatment centers
  • Long term care facilities

As noted above, the ability to share information between facilities is one of the primary benefits of electronic health records and one of the main reasons for the growth of this trend.

About

This project was funded by the USA Addiction Treatment Partnership. A Florida based non-profit organization.

rick glaserRick Glaser, and other team members are credited with creating, and adding to this article.

There are many changes coming within the next few years that surround electronic medical records. We wanted to provide this information as a base, and will continue to add to it as we see fit. If you have any ideas, or recommendations to add, please contact us.

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