Why EMRs Are a Game Changer for the Healthcare Sector
The healthcare system has come a long way since the days of hapless interns rummaging through mountains of files in the records room to locate a patient’s medical records. New technology has increased efficiency, improved diagnostics and supported the development of personalized medicine. At the center of this digitization are electronic medical records or EMRs. According to a 2020 survey, 89% of doctors report using an EMR/EHR system, and with good reason. Adding EMRs to existing PMS software helps clinics and hospitals curtail rising healthcare costs, comply with government guidelines and manage growing patient volumes. Interoperability between hospitals would be impossible with EMR systems.
So what is EMR? To put it simply, an electronic medical record is a healthcare practice’s version of a patient chart. EMRs contain patient medical history, diagnosis and treatment by a specific doctor, specialist, nurse practitioner, or clinic. The software is a step-up over traditional paper records, offering better data tracking, improved patient care, and timely reminders for appointments and follow-ups. All in all, EMRs have a positive impact on patient care as well as the work lives of doctors.
Growing Utility of EMRs
Over the last decade, medical knowledge has increased exponentially with more treatment options becoming available to patients. Thus, patients are living longer and dealing with more chronic health issues. Doctors cannot know everything nor can they cater to every requirement. To suitably address patients’ complex needs, medical professionals need reliable sources of information and decent relationships, including access to a multidisciplinary team of physicians and specialists. They require tools that improve access to relationships and information. Doctors have had to transform the way they practise and the EMR, with its associated information network, has facilitated that transformation.
EMR technology offers health providers information in formats that are impossible with paper charts. Physicians can now view graphs of values like weight, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels, tracking fluctuations over time. Not only does EMR improve chronic disease management, screening and prevention, the technology even enhances quality measures.
Constant Flow of Information
- Electronic medical records help set treatment goals and reminders when certain screening and prevention processes become outdated.
- EMR also gives access to resources and information that point physicians towards the best approach to different conditions encountered during the practice.
- Smoother access to lab data reduces duplication and costs while improving disease outcomes.
- Connectivity with various tools better inform clinics and their patients.
Such benefits are not lost on patients since their perception of the quality of care received is positively associated with the use of EMRs. Structured EMR data has the potential to access point-of-care data for informing the practice, conducting research and studying issues in primary care.
Build Stronger Relationships
EMR improves communication and relationships between patients and providers. Chart summaries, medical notes, and consultation data templates offer practitioners with accurate, structured information. The clear prescriptions reduce medical errors. If that’s not all, EMRs facilitate task assignments to different team members. The ability to check appointment schedules easily is a boon for clinicians, clinical staff, and even patients interested in booking appointments remotely. EMRs also foster communication with patients via patient portals and personal health records.
Assess the Work Flow
EMR technology has had a positive effect on the work lives of doctors, as demonstrated by the largely favorable responses. The global market for EMR is expected to increase from the initial estimated value of $26,134.18 million to 39,353.72 million by 2026. While the implementation of an EMR system may seem time-consuming to some physicians, studies have found that implementation does not lead to any noticeable decrease in patient access or loss of billings. In fact, electronic medical records permit clinics to take in a larger number of patients through improved access to comprehensive patient records - including clinical data - that help medical practitioners spend less time looking for reports and results. The perceived advantages include remote access to patient charts, better lab result availability, medication error notifications, and follow-up reminders.
In an age where digital reigns supreme, most healthcare professionals agree that paper-based records have more problems than benefits. While a handful of practices can get by using the paper medium, the drawbacks cannot be ignored. Paper records are insecure and take up a lot of space. As a result, it is becoming increasingly difficult to justify this outdated method of organizing patient files. EMR, on the other hand, offers better control over information security.
Grant Access to Authorized Users Only
Prevent sensitive patient information from falling into the wrong hands. Use EMR to control who has access to patient data and when. It is also more convenient to share electronic versions of patient charts with the parties involved. For example, you can send reports to other physicians instantly instead of arranging for a courier or mail, and the information sent is protected end-to-end.
Power of Encryption
Electronic medical records cannot be transcribed, copied, scanned, or faxed to third parties. Robust encryption methods prevent easy exposure and keep vital patient data away from prying eyes. What’s more, organizations complying with HIPAA and other privacy regulations find it easier to maintain confidentiality with EMR.
Unlike paper records, EMRs are protected by encryption, login, and password systems that make unauthorized adjustments to the patient chart extremely difficult. The end result is pristine records.
Keeping patient records secure involves more than just controlling access to critical information. EMR technology helps prepare for worst-case scenarios. In the event of criminal trespass, vandalism, or natural disasters, it is possible to restore confidential data from offsite backup. Get the whole system back up and running quicker than paper-based systems.
EMR also increases staff efficiency and reduces manual errors, making medical practices more profitable. However, there still exists a slim chance that EMR can be compromised. The hospital may be the victim of a cyberattack or third-party vendors may access patient records in a non-secure way. To minimize such risks, healthcare organizations must take precautions both in the office and out.
- Set strong passwords
- Sign off at the end of every shift
- Back up records offline
- Educate patients on the necessity of EMR safety
All this goes a long way in keeping the records as secure as possible.
Cost of EMR
EMR software is generally very competitively priced. They do not include complex functionality and cross-team implementation. But no matter the cost, it should not discourage healthcare providers from adopting the technology. Plan in advance and go through reviews.
Whether you are a hospital or private practice, consider all expenditure. Keep in mind that the cost of EMR is not just software development but also implementation. Ask companies for a quote and add the cost of training nurses, physicians, and other medical staff to your budget planning and cost estimates. Also figure in expenses for consulting fees and projected maintenance.
Hospitals and clinics stand to improve their revenue by adopting a digital healthcare system that offers seamless communication between the medical and financial side of the practice. An integrated electronic medical record and PMS fits the bill perfectly. The system promotes interoperability and efficiency, allowing for ease-of-use by clinics and ensuring everyone is on the same page.