Electronic health records are real-time medical records in digital form. It manages patient information from medication management to advanced analytics. Electronic health records (EHRs) are now widely used in American healthcare institutions.
- As of 2015, 8% of non-federal acute care hospitals were using basic EHR systems, up from 9.4% in 2008, according to the ONC for health IT.
- Likewise, Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act (2009) favors the implementation of EHR in medical administrative tasks.
However, electronic health records have some pros and cons. If we do not consider them carefully in advance, it can cause a slew of problems. Future and current health professionals should be aware of the pros and cons of electronic health records. Only then, we can use EHR effectively in healthcare settings.
In this article, we will discuss the benefits and drawbacks of EHR for the medical records of patients. Before that, first, just have a look at the EHR system as a whole.
What are Electronic Health Records (EHRs)?
Patient data management has been a strenuous task for medical professionals. Management of the bulk of patient medical records and files requires a lot of space. Similarly, searching files was an even more tiresome and a time taking job. Thanks to the EHR system. It has comforted the providers with digital and critical administration.
Electronic health records (EHRs) are the digital transformation of medical paper records. It allows healthcare professionals to find and extract PHI in electronic formats. EHR provides additional security for patients’ demographic information for future use.
The EHR system only allows authorized individuals and practitioners to reach the PHI. It contains a data breach notification requirement for any illegal use of medical records. Thus, EHR assures the disclosure of unsecured or unencrypted PHI. At the same time, it enables real-time patient-centered records with great accuracy.
EHR’s Usage in Healthcare Facilities
Different forms of EHR systems are possible. The two illustrations for employing EHR as medical record storage are;
- Installation of certain software
- Development of an internal database
A clinic can employ a cloud service provider. This makes it simple for users of various devices to access records. A record itself can also take many other forms, such as;
- EHR: Information for doctors and other healthcare professionals (reviewed on a computer before treating a patient)
- PHR: Data that a patient accesses via a mobile device
HealthIT.gov has defined the clear distinction between electronic health records (EHRs) and personal health records (PHRs).
|Electronic Health Records (EHRs)||Patient Health Records (PHRs)|
|It is information for the physician’s side about patient care and only these physicians have access to it. However, this information can circulate among numerous health organizations and settings.||This is a similar sort of medical record but is “intended to be set up, accessed, and managed by patients only.|
What are the Pros and Cons of EHR for Medical Record Keeping?
Pros of EHR
The EHR system has been designed for the assurance of the safety of medical records. It is a part of contemporary digital adaptations in healthcare. Along with multiple benefits, it is noticeably easier and more practical.
Electronic health records have several perks, such as:
- Information Quickly Accessible
Practices must keep track of their patient’s medical histories. Keeping medical records safe while still being available is a tough job. The practices require a lot of storage capacity to satisfy these criteria. Medical billing services for this purpose can be a little expensive for this goal.
However, if you upload the data digitally, it will be safe. Also, it will eliminate any storage problems that could arise if you keep your EHRs on a device. Consequently, there will be a lower cost. You can use these savings to purchase tech-savvy medical equipment for improved healthcare.
- Medical Record Protection
It is possible to lose medical records if;
- Your physical storage facility is not secure.
- If you leave your paper documents unattended.
Moreover, we are aware of the possibility of patient security breaches. However, because the records are kept on limited-access databases, online EHR systems are far safer.
- Online Health Portal Access
Patients contact the hospital or clinic whenever they require access to their medical information. Whether they want to check the accuracy of a prescription or present their medical history to another doctor, it’s a must.
The process of obtaining, duplicating, and disseminating medical records is time-consuming. If a patient requires emergency care, it can even be deadly. However, EHR enables patients to access their data wherever, whenever, and however, they like.
- Time-saving Format
Extensive paper-searching may become a routine element of a practitioner’s duties who deals with physical documents daily. This is time-consuming in addition to being sluggish and inconvenient.
Additionally, the likelihood of inaccuracies rises if a hospital maintains its records manually. Anyhow, records on electrical systems are simply accessible and save time, money, and lives.
Cons of EHR
Cons inevitably accompany perks, as is clear. It is challenging to find a system that is flawless in every way in this dynamic world. So, let’s examine a few possible drawbacks connected to EHR systems.
- Delay in Data Updation
The authorized persons have EHR access to a patient’s medical history. What if a patient switches doctors and the prior physician fails to update the patient’s information in the system? It may lead to incorrect treatment that endangers the patients’ lives.
For the protection of the patient as well as the convenience of the doctors, ongoing medical record updates are crucial. The info-updating process is time-consuming.
- Cybersecurity Issues
EHR being a digital database system is more secure than transporting paper files. The majority of certified EHR systems have security safeguards. However, cyber-attacks are growing more prevalent.
Therefore, medical staff must be trained in digital security to prevent ethical lapses. Only then, we can avoid a patient’s medical records being disclosed to parties other than the authorized staff.
- Dependence on Electricity and Internet
EHR’s operational structure is one of its main disadvantages. It requires two crucial components for its functioning:
- Secure Internet Connection
If one of the two crucial components is absent by any misfortune, it will affect how the EHR functions. Resultantly, we cannot retrieve data when needed. Additionally, new data won’t be updated either. So, we are left with no option than manually entering the data till we get a stable internet and electricity supply.
- Cost and Time Constraints
It can take many years to set up an EHR system and effectively convert all of your analog data to digital data in EHRs. you may face information loss and time wastage during the process.
In addition to this, sometimes the medical staff is not qualified enough to perform data entry executive duties. Consequently, hiring these experts would cost a lot of money.
After reviewing the pros and cons of EHR, we conclude that the risk is worthwhile. It is much more effective, secure, and sustainable than manually keeping medical records. Nevertheless, an EHR system would require greater initial capital expenditure to function. However, the long-term advantages of electronic health records surpass all of the drawbacks.