The progress in technology can be seen in every area of our lives. One area where significant advances have been made is in the field of medicine. What is unique about this field is that compared to how rapidly technology is evolving in some areas, the paper-based management system used in most care centers seems archaic.
In the medical field there is an enormous collection of data that is required, and many argue that it is impossible to manage and/or preserve all this data on paper. The information contained on a single paper chart is invaluable, yet paper so fragile. Even a spilled cup of coffee can equal disaster. The integrity of a paper record can suffer with continued use or extended storage (and data like x-ray film may not stand the test of time). Hand-written information on a paper chart can also be difficult to read, leading to misdiagnosis, incorrect treatment, and billing errors. The sheer amount of data that needs to be collected also makes it difficult to maintain organization. A single misplaced sheet can cause major problems. Finally, storing so many records costs time and money, as does transporting them.
If the technology exists to keep a human heart beating, surely a solution to these issues does as well? Indeed it does, and is known as an electronic medical record (EMR). This is nothing but a medical record present in digital format.
Electronic Medical Record
In the world of health informatics, an EMR is considered one type of the several electronic health records (EHR) that are available, but often, EMR and EHR are considered synonymous. A digital record can be easily interpreted, updated, duplicated, transported, and cannot easily be destroyed. EMRs can save time, money, and increase the overall quality of care.
If a patient’s chart in a digital format solves the challenges of the traditional paper version, why haven’t more health care centers adopted EMRs? Many fear the upfront costs and potential loss of productivity during a transition. But, the reason may be that an electronic medical record by itself is not enough. Recording test results or an x-ray electronically is a significant evolution in technology, but the EMR needs to be fully integrated with the rest of the processes carried out by any given health care provider, such as coding or billing. Rather than just an EMR, what is needed is EHR system, where an EMR is an integral part of practice management software or medical management software.
Several EMR manufacturers and leading healthcare software developers are paving the way with their multiple solutions, considered the standard for affordable and integrated EHR and practice management software solutions. More than just digitizing a paper chart, these software include document management, clinical, and financial modules to automate medical practice processes and the management of EMRs. Hospitals opt for a comprehensive EHR system that incorporates, and vastly improves upon, all systems and processes that are currently paper-based.
With the obvious advantages an upgrade in technology offers, the public health record keeping has become easy and accessible and more hospitals are the transitioning to the universal adoption of EMRs.
With the advance technology of EMR to support all processes involved with providing care with a true EHR system. By eliminating hurdles and providing comprehensive support needed to make such a radical change, e-MDs hopes to bring medical practices from the stone-age into the digital age.
EMR (Electronic Medical Records) vs EHR (Electronic Health Records)
What’s the Difference of EMR and EHR ?
Electronic medical records (EMRs) are a digital version of the paper charts in the clinician’s office. An EMR contains the medical and treatment history of the patients in one practice. EMRs have advantages over paper records.
For example, EMRs allow clinicians to:
- Track data over time
- Easily identify which patients are due for preventive screenings or checkups
- Check how their patients are doing on certain parameters—such as blood pressure readings or vaccinations
- Monitor and improve overall quality of care within the practice
But the information in EMRs doesn’t travel easily out of the practice. In fact, the patient’s record might even have to be printed out and delivered by mail to specialists and other members of the care team. In that regard, EMRs are not much better than a paper record.
Electronic health records (EHRs) do all those things—and more. EHRs focus on the total health of the patient—going beyond standard clinical data collected in the provider’s office and inclusive of a broader view on a patient’s care. EHRs are designed to reach out beyond the health organization that originally collects and compiles the information. They are built to share information with other health care providers, such as laboratories and specialists, so they contain information from all the clinicians involved in the patient’s care. The National Alliance for Health Information Technology stated that EHR data “can be created, managed, and consulted by authorized clinicians and staff across more than one healthcare organization.”
The information moves with the patient—to the specialist, the hospital, the nursing home, the next state or even across the country. In comparing the differences between record types, HIMSS Analytics stated that, “The EHR represents the ability to easily share medical information among stakeholders and to have a patient’s information follow him or her through the various modalities of care engaged by that individual.” EHRs are designed to be accessed by all people involved in the patients care—including the patients themselves.