When you think of medical records, you probably think of file
folders at your doctor's office filled with his or her
chicken-scratch handwriting--documents that are highly unlikely to
be useful or relevant to you as a patient. A few years ago, you'd
be right. Now, with the advent of
electronic records, all that is slowly changing and we as
patients have a lot to be excited about.
With the increased prevalence of digital data storage and
Internet access, many health care practices are transitioning
patient medical data out of traditional paper records and into
searchable, digital formats. These electronic medical records
electronic health records (EHRs) make it easier for our doctors
to provide us with better, more thorough care. They also improve
our patient experience by facilitating communication with our
doctors and allowing us to take a more informed, active role in our
own health care.
Advantages of EMRs - Patient Perspective:
- Transferrable, long-term data: When you see a new doctor, all
of your current and past health information can easily be shared
between your doctors, allowing each to make better, more informed
decisions about your overall health care--not just the one issue
they are being asked to treat.
- Digital, responsive data: Digital data lends itself to the
creation of online, patient-facing portals, which allow you to take
a more active, informed role in your health care. Eventually, EMR
programs will also have the ability to read data from devices like
phones, pacemakers, and glucometers, allowing you and your doctor
real-time insight into your health.
Advantages of EMRs - Health Care Provider Perspective:
- Searchable, dynamic data: Health care providers can filter or
search for relevant records based on specific criteria, helping the
practice more readily monitor its patient population over time and
identify areas of concern, such as a patient who is overdue for a
checkup and needs to be contacted.
- Freed up time and space: Records can be stored digitally and
automatically updated, which frees up physical storage space and
saves time on data entry.
Although it shows promise, there remain complications associated
with effective implementation of EMR technologies. For example,
data accuracy, security, and compatibility continue to cause issues
with widespread execution. To mitigate these concerns, the
U.S. government is working closely with the medical community to
establish universal standards for EMR systems, including
built-in auditing features, data coding standards, and other checks
and balances designed to ensure data integrity and compatibility
across all EMR programs--even those from competing software
With the right regulatory systems, standards, and polices in
place, EMR technologies have the potential to change the face of
health care, both for doctors and patients.
In the words of Dr.
Kaveh Safavi, M.D., Accenture's Managing Director of Global
Health Business, implementation of EMR means, "Patients can
actually begin to care for themselves--relieve the burden of the
delivery system and get a better result. That's truly workforce
reimagined, because now you've made the patient part of their own
care-giving team, and the technology makes it possible."