What is Electronic Health Record?
Electronic Health Record (EHR) is another name for digital and critical administrative medical reports of a patient under the care of a particular physician. EHR is really beneficial for practices as well as hospitals – as it has made record-keeping simpler and easier (to some extent at least).
But like every other thing, there are certain pros and cons of electronic health records – which if not taken into account well in advance can lead to several complications. And believe us – complications in the healthcare industry mean bad news (always).
Pros and Cons of Electronic Health Record
EHRs have a variety of clinical, organizational, and societal effects that could help both patients and clinicians.
According to the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) “accomplishing the tangible benefits of Electronic Health Records (EHR) systems refers to the conversion of practices, related to performance enhancement techniques, system and collaborative care, and actual proof medicine.”
Considering this, researchers have described several possible disadvantages of EHRs, such as higher initial and ongoing maintenance costs as well as workflow disruptions caused by the need to understand the basic system, which can result in reduced productivity, etc.
Pros of Electronic Health Records
EHR, like so many other modern digital adaptations of traditional processes, is developed to ensure storing, organizing, and modifying medical records. It is significantly simpler and more convenient that offers a myriad of other benefits including:
Security of medical reports
Sometimes when you leave your paper records unattended or your physical storage area is also not secured, it is easy to misplace medical records. Moreover, patient data theft is a thing – which practices should be mindful of. However, online EHR solutions can be significantly safer as the records are maintained on databases with restricted access.
- Lower storage cost and requirements
There are millions of patients and practices are required to maintain their medical history. All of these reports must be kept securely but they should be accessible on demand as well. To meet these requirements, ample storage space is needed through medical billing service and this can be costly. However, by digitally uploading the data, not only it will be secure, but will also resolve storage issues that might emerge if you are maintaining EHR on a device within your premises. Thus, resulting in lesser cost, which can be utilized to buy tech-savvy medical equipment for better healthcare.
- Patients have easier access
If patients need their medical records, either they wish to double-check prescriptions or show their medical history to another doctor, they will have to ask the hospital or the clinic. Acquiring, copying, and distributing the documents can take a while – and if a patient needs urgent care then it can lead to fatality as well. However, an online health portal in the form of EHR allows patients to retrieve their medication details and records anywhere, anytime – however, they like.
- More practical and effective
Whenever a doctor or healthcare professional deals with physical papers and data, a majority of searching through several papers might become a regular part of the job. This is not only slow and inconvenient, it is time-consuming as well. Moreover, chances of errors increase if a hospital is keeping the records manually. However, all the records being present on electronic systems are easier to get, which would save time, money, and lives.
Cons of Electronic Health Records
With pros comes certain cons – which is obvious. In this ever-changing world – it is hard to come by a system that is perfect from every aspect. So let’s take a look at a few potential drawbacks associated with EHR systems.
Computer access is the only option
One of the major drawbacks of EHR is the way it operates. It would need a constant internet connection and electricity to work. However, if any of the two important things are missing, it would hamper EHR operations. This could result in the unavailability of data when it is most needed. Moreover, new data will not be updated as well, which then should be recorded manually until healthcare professionals get access to the internet and electricity.
Concerns about cybersecurity
Although the database system is more secure than carrying paper files, cyber-attacks are becoming increasingly common. Indeed, most approved EHR systems contain security features, but doctor’s office employees must be trained in digital security to avoid an ethical breach, which is a patient’s medical records leaking away to others, other than the authorized staff.
Continual updates are required
A patient’s medical history is accessible to the authorized staff via EHR. In case, if a patient has changed the doctor and if the information is not updated on the system by the previous medical practitioner, it can result in wrong treatment that can cost the patients their lives. This is why continued medical record updates are required, not only for the patient’s safety, but also for the doctors. And needless to say it is a cumbersome process.
Cost and Time
Selecting and setting up an EHR system, as well as properly converting all of your traditional data to digital information can take several years. This can result in loss of information and wastage of time. Not only this, but chances are health staff are not trained to do the work of a data entry executive. Thus, employing these professionals would require a hefty budget as well.
After going through all the pros and cons of electronic health records – we are certain that you may have gotten an idea that it is worth the risk. Compared to manually keeping records, it is far more efficient, secure and sustainable. However, needless to say for an EHR system to work the initial capital expense would be higher but its long term benefits outweigh all the cons.