Health records refer to the information stored about patients. It is a normal practice to maintain patient records in detail that includes patient history and other useful information. The record of past ailments, treatment, allergies, general health condition of the patient and so on is maintained by the doctor. These records serve as a base for treatment in case of any ailment in future. As of now the records were maintained manually by each concerned doctor and hospital. However, a new system called electronic health records (ehr) has been introduced by many IT companies for the healthcare industry.
The age old manual system of maintaining patient records is very tedious and time consuming. The manual process carries a large number of flaws at first the information can not be maintained in greater depths. There is always an element of error involved in the manual process. Incorrect information may prove to be fatal in the process of treatment. The biggest disadvantage of the manual process is that the information or the records are not centralized. At times of emergency the records are not available to the concerned doctor as there is lack of centralization. There seems to be an answer to the problem by way of electronic health records (ehr).
An electronic health record (ehr) is a process of maintaining the patient records electronically or in a digital format. The digitization of the health records helps to overcome the problems associated with the manual process of maintaining the records. At first it helps in saving a lot of time, detailed information can be maintained, reduction in errors, reduction in costs, improved quality of service and patient safety. The biggest advantage with the system is that the information can be centralized, which can be utilized at any point of time including emergencies.
Just like any new approach to doing things, electronic health records (EHR) has its advantages and disadvantages. At first it is a normal practice that people usually resist to changes, the same applies to the implementation of electronic health records. There are other requirements such as initial cost of implementation, training, and concerns about information safety due to its centralization. However, for sure the advantage of ehr outweighs the disadvantages associated with it.
The present US administration has made it a priority to move ahead with centralizing and putting patients’ medical record in digital format. A huge chunk of the economic recovery stimulus package has been earmarked for this project. It is hoped that when all is said and done, electronic medical records, a better way to keep records than pen and paper will be the order of the day.