What is an electronic medical record? An electronic medical record (EMR) or otherwise known as the electronic health record (EHR) is simply a medical record of a patient that is made in digital form. This digital information is usually placed or stored in a database that is accessible from everywhere via a network. This valuable patient’s medical information is used to be recorded on paper that is compiled on the patient’s chart or record found at the doctor’s office or at the foot of the patient’s bed. The EMRs contain important and mainstream data about the patient such as the patient’s lab results, blood tests, inoculations, drug prescriptions and a lot more. Because of today’s digitized world, this huge bulk of data can be compiled in a central location that can be accessed by any authorized personnel at all times without any hassle. However, there are still some criticisms and flaws with regards to the use of the electronic medical record. So in order for us to weigh the advantages and disadvantages of using this particular method of storing data, let us try to understand the different pros and cons of electronic medical record.
The Pros of Electronic Medical Record
- The use of EMR is said to be effective in reducing the possibility of human errors such as misspellings, illegibility and other differing terminologies. With this method, the standardization of the patient’s health records can already be achievable.
- Another pro in using EMR is that it eliminates the possibility of losing important information about the client. Paper records are easily lost. Floods, fires and other natural catastrophes can easily cause irreparable damage to these vital documents. Storing records digitally can be kept virtually forever without the risk of losing the data. This can also help preserve previous information that can still be useful in the future treatment of the patient.
- The EMR can also help in making health care cost-efficient by consolidating all the data in just one place. Paper based records are usually located in different places, which consume a lot of time, money and effort in order to access all the necessary documents. However, with the systematic approach of EMR, it is already a lot easier to locate the different data of different patients in just one location, which is in front of the computer. This also allows easier referral to different doctors since it can already present the entire medical or health history of the patient as well as the management without the need to visit physically the patient or the hospital.
- The first ever EMR used in today’s world is developed by the VeriChip Corporation. The VeriChip is the first of its kind to be approved by the US FDA. Because of this achievement, doctors are able to save live and can provide rapid identification of high risk patients and access their medical history. This enables swift diagnosis and treatment especially during emergency situations. Because of this, the EMR has already helped in the prevention of delayed treatment and incorrect diagnosis. This success has also pushed the launching of Google health, which is an online personalized health record service that is also similar to VeriChip. Another online health information storage system is called HealthVault, which is a system that is offered or developed by Microsoft. This likewise comes with similar properties with Google Health.
These are some of the advantages of using EMR to our health. As we can see, we can definitely get a lot of benefits from utilizing this kind of data storing method. However, many privacy rights advocacy groups are still against the use of these EMR. Below are some of their reasons for not supporting it.
The Cons of Electronic Medical Record
- One of the major reasons why a lot of people do not support the use of EMR is the high threat to the privacy of the patients. Privacy is considered nowadays as a luxury since not all people are able to keep their personal and private information to themselves anymore. With the use of digitalized storing of data, the privacy of the patient’s information is put at stake. Since this allows easier access to the medical records of a person, it can also be accessed easily by unauthorized people. Health records are always considered to be confidential between the patient and his or her doctor or physician.
- The use of the EMR is also seen as a start to the loss of human touch in health care. in the process of digitalization, the interpersonal aspect in the health care can be possibly lost. In handwritten hospital charts, doctors and nurses are able to write what they think and can also provide their own observations using their own words. This is now replaced with EMRs checking of boxes and crossing out electronic forms.
- Although EMRs are being used in order to improve standardization, there are still many problems reported associated to the use of EMR with regards to this matter. Some EMRs have completely different systems that are not compatible with the system of a general practitioner and/or another clinic’s utilized system. Because of this not all users are satisfied with the current state of the digitalized medical recording.
- Aside from these things, EMRs are also considered unsafe and unsecured. Since the data are hidden in computer, it can also be hacked by many unauthorized users despite all the security passwords required by the program. Even those databases that are run by banks, which are considered top priorities, can even be compromised. Because of this, well-publicized incidences of data loss or breach were made possible.
These are just some of the important pros and cons about the use of electronic medical records that we must take seriously into consideration. It is important that we must choose for a method that can provide more improvement rather than giving more difficulties and problems in the keeping the records of the patients safe, secure and confidential.