Information technology is increasingly recognized as an important tool for improving patient safety and quality of care, especially by promoting the practice of evidence-based medicine. Of all the health information technology currently in use, the electronic medical record (EMR) has the widest range of capabilities and thus the greatest potential for improving quality of patient care.
Why are Electronic Medical Records important?
In the era of cutting edge technology, preservation of documents in paper format is gradually being replaced by their preservation in electronic format. Electronic medical record systems are one such aspect of advanced technology, which help you preserve your medical documents in e-format.
Electronic medical records are central to computerization of health information systems. They assist healthcare professionals and administrators to be highly efficient and professional. This paperless technology is crucial to achieving peak performance in other areas of medical operations such as decision support systems. They are important to help deliver high quality, efficient and cost-effective healthcare solutions to all sections of society.
What is an Electronic Medical Record?
Electronic medical records, or EMRs, consist of patient medical information stored as electronic files on computer. The acceptance of EMRs continues to grow due to the increased importance and benefits of electronic records within the medical community.
The following are the Benefits of Electronic Medical Records (EMRs):
1. Reduce Documentation Errors.
Typed EMR documentation greatly reduces patient care errors because it eliminates the second-guessing associated with illegible documentation of patient care orders or prescriptions.
2. Provide Instant Access to Patient Information.
EMRs provide instant access to patient information. With paper-based records, doctors have to wait for medical reports to be transcribed and typed and sometimes to be sent elsewhere. However, EMR information is instantly accessible for patient care.
3. Allow Sharing of Information.
EMRs allow various doctors treating the same patient to share records across many networks, even if they are not in the same location.
4. Offer Integration.
EMRs allow integration of different clinical systems into one record. For example, a doctor can review another doctors’ orders, switch to the pharmaceutical system and review the patient’s current medication and then review X-rays on another system – all from one access point.
5. Provide Audit Trails.
Once paper-based medical records leave the medical records department, no tracking mechanisms are in place to ensure that the patient’s information is kept confidential. EMRs provide increased confidentiality with audit trails -keeping track of each individual who has reviewed a patient’s information, including the date and time it was viewed.
How to Implement an Electronic Medical Record?
EMRs allow quick and easy access, storage and retrieval of patient information from a variety of integrated health care resources. However, implementation of EMRs are timely and costly, therefore a comprehensive plan must be in place before beginning the process.
1. Evaluate organisational requirements.
The input of other individuals is a key to the success of EMR implementation.
Complete an evaluation of organisational requirements and strategies to ensure appropriate resources are in place to support the implementation of EMR.
2. Ensure staff corporation.
Lack of staff corporation may result in decreased productivity, lower morale and even major financial impact. Allow staff using the software to voice their opinions about existing systems and provide input into the acquisition of any new systems.
3. Set-up a review panel.
Select a review panel representing all intended users of the system. The panel acts as a liaison between users and top management and also participate in selecting the final EMR product.
4. Identify system integration.
Determine the required level of integration with existing systems.
5. Budgetary consideration.
Cost is the main reason why health care organisations and doctors are reluctant to implement EMRs. When the decision is made to embark on the procurement of EMRs, consideration must be given to cost implications based upon budgetary constraints and the potential return on investment.
6. Test system.
Ensure the system is appropriate for your organization: is it congruent with the size, cost and needs of your organization?
7. Focus the selection process.
The process of deciding which system to acquire must be narrowed to three preferred choices by the selection panel to prevent information overload.
8. Request external support
The use of external support such as health care consultants might make the process easier as they will be in the perfect position to ask the right questions before making a decision on a particular supplier. Consultants can also provide impartial advice on systems and suppliers.
Romeo Richards is the CEO of The Business Education Center: http://theprofitexperts.co.uk the consultancy division of Richards International Group. The Business Education Center provides the most in-depth and comprehensive business coaching and training to professionals such as doctors, lawyers, accountants, business consultants, private security firms and retail executives.
Romeo holds a Master’s Degree in International Relations and is the author of eight eBooks, a book and numerous articles, whitepapers and best practices on retail loss prevention and profit protection. His upcoming eBooks and books on Retail Store Design, Visual Merchandising, Retail Loss Prevention and How to make 7 Figures Annually as a Lawyer, Accountant, Business Consultant, Private Security Firm, Private Dental Practice, Private Medical Practice and NGOs & Public Sector Finance Management will be published in January 2012.