An electronic medical records system is the networked collection of population and patient data electronically stored in a secure, network-centric electronic format. These records are able to be shared among various health care settings with minimal expense and time. The electronic medical records system is beneficial for physicians, patients, providers and insurance companies. As such, there are many benefits to be derived from EMR integration. One of the main benefits is that electronic medical records eliminate the need for paper-based documentation and have greatly increased patient access to their own electronic medical records.
However, electronic medical records are not without their limitations. As such, it is important for practices to evaluate whether or not electronic health records are appropriate for their specific needs. To do so, a practice should consider the benefits of using an electronic database over paper records, identify how electronic medical records reduce overhead and provide an accurate picture of how the technology has benefited the organization. It is also important for physicians to know what electronic format will be most useful for their practice in order to make the transition from paper to electronic medical records easy.
One of the benefits of electronic medical records is that they are more accurate and easier to process. The increased accuracy allows providers to accurately diagnose patients and create treatment plans. Because electronic medical records are networked, information sent from one provider to another is consistent. As such, providers are able to quickly disseminate needed information to patients. Because of this increased efficiency, medical providers may find that fewer office visits are required to complete treatment plans.
Another benefit of electronic health records is that patients can self-complete the clinical documentation online at home, rather than sending the records to a third party. Because ehr is able to integrate with the patient’s health information, there is no need for a doctor to access patient data to verify diagnoses or create treatment plans. In fact, a number of providers offer patients the ability to self-complete their electronic medical records online. This convenient feature makes it easy for patients to track past treatments, see how they have improved and determine if additional services are necessary.
However, there are some healthcare providers who believe that electronic medical records are unsafe. According to these professionals, patient privacy is not protected by HIPAA and other recent laws that protect personal information. Moreover, the lack of physical safeguards in many ehr systems leaves patients at risk of identity theft. Many studies have indicated that electronic medical records do not effectively transmit personal information across networks. As a result, healthcare organizations continue to implement measures to address these issues.
Some healthcare groups also argue that electronic medical records inappropriately relieve doctors of the burden of creating adequate patient medical histories. EMR software programs are able to capture patient demographics, but physicians are still required to enter this information manually into a system. Further, a lack of security allows patients’ private information to be exploited through cybercrimes and the Internet. Without full access to patient medical records, doctors may not be aware of potential risks and do not take steps to mitigate them.
Other healthcare groups question the reliability of electronic medical records, arguing that providers have little control over the integrity of the information. Complicated billing procedures make it difficult for providers to ensure that all information provided is accurate. In addition, compliance with standards for EMR implementation may not be sufficient. In a report released in June 2021, inspectors from the American Association for Medical Information Protection (AAMIP) expressed serious concerns about the lack of security and privacy of EMR software. The inspectors also expressed concerns that digital transmission of sensitive personal information could compromise patients’ privacy and create new security risks for healthcare organizations.
Regardless of these concerns, healthcare organizations have taken significant steps to improve their eMR implementations. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) of 1996 allows patients to use digital files in an approved manner. HIPAA defines how electronic medical records are protected. It also requires most healthcare providers to use secure data encryption systems and information monitoring programs to monitor patient records. Providers must also inform patients of their rights to access and update their electronic medical records at any time.