Science

What are electronic medical records and what are their benefits?

An introduction to electronic medical records and benefits they offer. 

Health care technology system adoption among health care providers has increased over the years. Globally, most physicians are digitizing the health care delivery processes in hospitals and clinics. Electronic medical records is one of the common digital medical system hospitals have included in their health care system.

The electronic medical records market size is projected to grow at a rate of 4% each year and may be worth $39 billion by 2027. This figure indicates the huge demand for electronic medical records in hospitals.

What are the benefits of electronic medical record  to health care providers?

Read on to find out why electronic medical records are in huge demand among physicians and in hospitals.

Table of Contents

What are electronic medical records?

An electronic medical record is the digital storage of a patient’s clinical data. This enables physicians and other health team members to access a client’s information virtually.

The ease of access to clinical data speeds up the clinical decision making process. 

Most physicians and hospitals globally are integrating electronic medical records into their facilities and have abandoned the traditional paper- chart system of keeping clinical records.

The proportion of primary care physicians using electronic medical records in clinical practice is 100% in New Zealand, 99% in England, 91% in the United States of America and 97% in Canada.

What are electronic medical records mainly used for?

Clinical records are vital in the clinical management of patients. Before the advent of electronic medical records, papers such as graphs, charts and special notes for specific procedures were used to record clinical data such as vital signs, treatment, management plans, surgical notes. However, with an electronic medical record system, this set of clinical data is stored and accessed online.

How do electronic medical records work?

Electronic medical records work using a software or cloud based system provided by a service provider.

Electronic medical records types include:

  • Software: This requires the installation of an electronic medical record software into a health facility’s server or computer systems.
  • Cloud-based system: The clinical records are stored in a cloud-based network and accessed online by a managing physician and team members.  

What are benefits of electronic medical records?

Electronic medical record benefits are numerous despite the challenges of integrating and maintaining an  electronic medical records system.The electronic medical records benefits apply to both clients and health care providers.

1. Efficient health care service delivery 

Clients lose confidence in their physicians when prompt diagnosis and treatment options are not quickly executed. This delay may be attributed to bottlenecks such as laboratory result collection in a traditional hospital setting. However,doctors in a health facility with electronic medical records have unlimited access to relevant clinical records that will speed up diagnosis and management of clinical cases. Also, clinicians have access to a client’s treatment history so a patient’s clinical response can be tracked in one location.

2. Enhanced clinical data security and privacy

Electronic medical records have gated access i.e only individuals with log-in details can access a client’s clinical records. This promotes privacy and reduces unauthorised access to client’s data even among healthcare providers not involved in managing a patient.

3. Improved clinical care coordination

Electronic medical records provide coordinated health care service delivery for clients who are managed by multiple physicians. Multi-specialist management of certain clinical conditions is easier because these specialists have equal access to relevant clinical reports that they can respond to at any location and time. There is an enhanced communication network among physicians and other health care service providers.

4. Better health outcomes

Health outcomes such as reduced prevalence of preventable deaths due to medical errors and uncoordinated care are better in a health facility with an electronic medical record system.

For instance, patients don’t suffer from drug allergies due to multiple drug administration  because of safe drug prescription practices enhanced by doctors’ uninterrupted access to a patient’s drug history. Also,the information in electronic medical records are legible and clear for health care providers to read. Thus, there is decreased incidence of medical errors and drug overdose due to misinterpretation of written prescriptions.

5. Reduced operational cost

Digital storage of patient information cuts off the need for paper supplies and other writing materials for record keeping. Cloud-based electronic medical records are more economical than electronic medical record software because the external storage of information eliminates the need for recruiting data technicians and buying additional storage devices to manage and store data properly.

Conclusion

Electronic medical records advantages extend beyond health care providers but also among patients. Cloud based electronic medical records are easier to integrate into a health facility and cheaper to maintain. Physicians who work in hospitals with electronic medical records offer proactive medical care because of the ease of clinical data access and experience more client satisfaction.

Clients who use services of health care providers with an electronic medical records system trust such systems to keep their clinical records confidential and secured.

More hospitals and clinics will commence the use of electronic medical records in the future as health technology advances.

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