Breakthrough Patient Recruitment

: Electronic Medical Records: They’re Not Just for Doctors!

Electronic Medical Records: They’re Not Just for Doctors!

Content Specialist

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 (EMRs) and 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 manufacturers.

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."

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