Gone are the days when the physician’s offices were packed with file cabinets outflowing with documents and medical staff pulling their hair out while rifling through files to find the latest information on the patient’s health.
Meet EHR, the electronic health record system. A modern solution to meet the growing needs of the healthcare industry. While the consolidated system has numerous benefits, it has some drawbacks (unheard-of) that make some still wary of integrating it into their operations.
Being a veteran in the healthcare industry, has highlighted some worth-noting pros and cons of implementing EHR or EMR into the healthcare system.
What is an EHR or EMR?
“An EHR is a digital version of a patient’s medical chart that is maintained by the provider over time and may include all of the key administrative clinical data relevant to that person’s care under a particular provider – National Institutes of Health”
Simply put, EHR or EMR is a digital form of what we have known as patient paper charts. A real-time patient record management system, makes information accessible to authorized users. Besides patients’ medical history and treatment plans, it gives a broader perspective of a patient’s care. The following are the vital parts of an EHR system:
● Stores and share patients’ personal data, medical history, diagnosis, treatment plans, medications lab reports, radiology images, allergies, immunization dates, and test results with concerning authorized parties.
● It gives access to evidence-based tools to the providers to make informed decisions about patient care.
● It automates and streamlines provider workflow
.One of the notable features of an EHR system is that the patient’s health information stored in the system can be managed and edited by authorized users and can be shared with multiple healthcare providers at once. That means all the clinicians involved in a patient care can access their patients updated and most recent information at any time.
4 Benefits of EHR or EMR systems:
1) Immediate access to Patient records:
As said earlier, EHR allows providers and organizations, including specialists, laboratories, pharmacies, emergency facilities, medical imaging facilities, and school and workplace clinics, to access a patient’s health records in a hassle-free way.
Additionally, it has a dashboard that shows appointment dates viewable to the medical staff in the form of a calendar so that physicians and staff members can manage their tasks accordingly. This will reduce appointment clashes and ensure quality care to the patients.
2) Improved Patient Care:
Computerized health records are easier to understand as compared to written records by physicians, which pose the risk of misinterpretation of prescriptions and errors in critical diagnosis and medical orders that can possibly cost a patient their life.
Other benefits of EHR for patients include:
● It makes documentation, diagnosis, and claim submission easier
● It sends automated alerts of possible risks at the time of the treatment
● It tracks and manages medications to minimize the risk of drug interaction and possible allergic reactions.
● It helps with the easy and effective integration of evidence-based tools for decision-making.
3) Cut down on labor and physical space:
As EHR makes patient’s health record information accessible to the healthcare staff, it significantly reduces the need to issue appointments manually, send reminder emails, etc., easier; hence, it reduces the overhead expense.
Additionally, with EHR, there is no longer a need for physical space, file cabinets, papers, ink, etc., to document and store information manually. Those unspent funds can be used to provide quality care to the patients, and more space can be allocated for supplies and equipment. As for medical records, they are safely stored in your EHR system and backed up in the cloud.
4) Compliant with Privacy laws and regulations:
EHR systems must comply with multiple encryption requirements before it rolls out for good. This protects the patient’s information in the system per data privacy laws and regulations.
Security measure employed by an EHR system includes two-factor authentication and data encryption. Doing so ensures that only authorized users can access the information.
5) Prevents the need for repeated tests:
Since EHR systems are interconnected with physicians, pharmacists, lab technicians, and other healthcare organizations, it eradicates the need for repeated tests when a patient changes a clinic.
4 Cons of EHR or EMR system:
1) Require Staff Training:
EHR systems may be seen as a bit technical for medical staff, especially those who don’t hold a background in technical knowledge. Therefore, you will require to organize training sessions on using the software. And, of course, this means an unavoidable additional expense.
Besides, during the training period, your staff working hours will be reduced hence, less time will be spent on patient care.
2) Poses a Risk of Cyberattacks:
Whether it’s EHR or any other cloud-based system, the threat of cyberattacks or data theft always lingers. In fact, the healthcare industry is more prone to suffer cyberattacks if we see past trends. Therefore it is crucial on your part to keep your EMR systems equipped with mandatory security measures to protect against privacy breaches and data theft.
3) Costs Time and Money:
As much as it is useful to set up an EHR system for your healthcare practice, it is equally expensive and time-consuming. Deploying an EHR system is not an overnight process. In fact, it takes years to get it implemented and started.
4) Need Frequent Updates:
Maintaining an EHR system is another hassle. For instance, if your medical staff doesn’t update the system, your records could become inaccurate and eventually lose value. Also,, if you have an electricity cut or power outage for some reason, you won’t be able to access your records in the EHR system.
5) Spread of inaccurate or incomplete information:
It is crucial to constantly monitor and update health records in an EHR system, as failure to do so will spread incomplete or inaccurate information to the other users, leading to errors in diagnosis and treatments.
The Decision is Yours to Make:
So these are the major advantages and disadvantages shared by Clinicast, that one must consider before deploying an EHR system.
Ultimately, when weighing the pros and cons, it comes down to the fact that EHR could be a healthcare practice’s biggest asset if used correctly and meaningfully. However, it could be equally disastrous if not maintained and used appropriately. Consult an expert about your organizational needs and discuss whether getting an EHR system is the right choice.