“The march of science and technology does not imply growing intellectual complexity in the lives of most people. It often means the opposite.”-Thomas Sowell
Years ago, one day in typing class, I told a fellow student, that it was easier for me to write a paragraph by hand-than to type it! Guess what? My typing speed did improve with practice over time. Typing saves time and can be more legible than writing by hand. So these days as my thoughts arise, instead of putting pen to paper, I sit at my computer and type. Thanks to the computer and its accompanying word processing software, just about everyone can type, and the finished product looks professional. When I first learned how to type, I actually used a typewriter. A better way was obviously found through computer technology, as the typewriter is now obsolete. For those of us who used the typewriter, it is easy to understand why it was retired, it just could not compare with the computer.
Medical facilities are moving away from using handwritten, paper-based medical records and towards digitized (computerized) records. There are distinct advantages to be gained by going this route. I mentioned legibility earlier on, and I will not debate much on that, except to ask: “Have you tried to identify medications on your prescription?” I will not labour the point. When the advantages and disadvantages are looked at regarding both (paper-based versus computerized records), digitized medical records are an improvement over the old paper-based method. A few years ago at job interviews, a standard question was, “Are you computer literate?” Well, have you seen a 3-year-old child using a tablet to watch his or her favorite cartoon? This is the information age and we have to adapt to it.
The storing of patients’ medical records in filing cabinets is still done and is standard practice in many hospitals and healthcare facilities. More than likely, this is what you are familiar with. This method has been used for many years and it did work, and it still can work. However, a more efficient system has been found. This has resulted in electronic medical record (EMR) systems. Some medical facilities have utilized EMR systems to improve and streamline patient record-keeping. The patients’ health records are stored securely on these systems, just as how a patient’s file or docket would be stored in a special room or filing cabinet. The advantage is that this requires far storage space. Also important, is that the electronic health record (EHR) for each patient can be accessed from EMR systems, and made available to other stakeholders involved in the patient’s care; all of which can be done in real time. These systems allow and facilitate portability. The patient may be in Japan or Jamaica-either way, it’s no problem! Everything is easily accessible, at anytime and in anyplace!
Some Benefits of Electronic Medical Records
- Patients can make appointments and make changes to their personal information
- Allows for better organization and accuracy of patients’ medical records
- Different healthcare providers can access the patient’s medical information, whenever and wherever needed; it facilitates portability
- Allows the easy tracking of health trends-for example, medical researchers will have access to extensive data for clinical studies
- More comprehensive and complete medical information about the patient in one place, which will improve clinical decision-making by having all pertinent information available
- Laboratory, medical imaging and pathology results can be sent directly to the patient’s record
Electronic medical record is the way of the future, as medicine integrates the use of technology, just like everything else. So relax-after all, the purpose of technology is to simplify our lives and make life easier for us!
I have some links below, which will provide more information regarding electronic medical records (EMRs) and electronic health records (EHRs). All of these are videos. Clicking on the links sure beats buying a book on the subject, or going to the library… once again, technology to the rescue!
Updated: Health IT for you: Giving you access to your medical records when and where they are needed
What is EMR?
3. Why Electornic Health Records?