The Positive and Negative Effects of EMR
Electronic Medical Records (EMR’s) or Electronic Health Records (EHR’s) are applications that would aid in recording clinical data electronically, making decisions, placing and receiving orders, making requests to the pharmacy, X-ray department and laboratory, and also documenting the clinical activities. An EMR system can almost be utilized in any clinical settings including physician’s private practice, ambulatory, inpatient, trauma care, intensive care, nursing facilities, managed care, etc. An EMR system required the use of a computer system along with a network.
The network would ensure the transfer and storage of the health information.
The HIMSS has planned the implementation and use of the EMR system in the US in 7 stages. Currently EMR implementation is in stage 2 and stage 3. In stage 6 about 100 % of the hospitals would be covered. In stage 7, there would be building of the regional and national network that would integrate all the EMR systems and ensure that information can be safety shared across all the hospitals.
Before actually, the EMR system can be integrated over various regions, the hospitals should tend to use them as complete solution packages (HIMSS Analytics, 2006).
The National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey conducted in 2001 and 2005 noticed an increase in the Use of the EMR’s by the physician from 18 % in 2001, which jumped by about 31 % in the year 2005. Of the 23.9 % physicians who used the EMR’s in 2005, about 11.2 % had full usage and 12. 7 % had partial usage of the EMR systems. Over age, sex and specialty types, the EMR usage rates tend to be constant. Several issues including the size of the practice, number of specialties in the practice, the presence of managed care contracts, etc, played a role in determining the EMR usage. In the Midwest US, the EMR usage was about 26.9 % and in the West it was highest at 33.4 %. EMR usage was the lowest in the Northeast at 14.4 %. In urban areas, the EMR usage was about 24.8 % whereas in rural and other areas it was about 16.9 %. More than 21.4 % of the physicians use the EMR for recording and presenting demographic data. However, only about 5.4 % of the physicians can actually present epidemiological or public health data. If the physicians used an EMR system completely, then they were more likely to place orders, prescriptions, lab tests, obtain lab results, take and record nursing notes, place reminders and alters, etc, using the EMR (Burt, 2008).
Studies conducted in Sweden and Norway, where the implementation of the EMR systems have been more intensive have demonstrated that up to 90 % of the healthcare facilities may actually have EMRs (Open Clinical, 2008).
In one of the study conducted on a family medicine practice in Dryden New York, the EMR system was implemented in July 2003 and was overhauled in three phases. The implementation of the EMR provided several benefits for the organization. The organization had greater revenue and greater profit margins. The obstacles in the EMR implementation were tackled successfully (O’Niel, 2007).
Having EMR has a huge number of benefits for the organization. There is the issue of decreased storage space and reduced efforts in searching for the records of the patient. Electronic searches can last for a few seconds. Hence there would be an improvement in the efficiency. The patient’s records can be stored in an easier manner electronically. It can be modified with ease and changes can be made without any problems. More importantly, the electronic medical records would ensure that data is fed with ease. An electronic medical record would have a template for the healthcare professional to insert data. The physician can utilize various templates including demographic information, medical conditions sheets, orders, prescription, image requirements, follow-up notes, etc. By picking up and using the right template, the physician can effectively save time, make fewer mistakes and chart the details more compressively than a hard form paper recording system. In case of the trauma care department, the use of the EMR system is even more critical. Such a system can help to provide immense benefits in such a way that it would improve the recording time and also provide the user with immense benefits in the form of alerts, risk information, error reporting, etc. Some of these features could be life-saving in the trauma care or intensive care units. EMR systems permit transfer of information inside the hospital and also outside the hospital. Based on who is assigned a particular patient, the user would be given rights. The user would just have to log into any computer on the network with a username and password and accordingly access his/her patient’s information. Between organizations, information can be transferred. Thus a patient can go to almost any hospital across the nation, and the hospital can retrieve the patient’s health information within a matter of seconds. EMRs also permit safer and secure transfer of helath information, ensuring that the patient’s information is kept confidential. In case of an emergency situations or natural disaster, the EMR is very useful in ensuring that the patient’s information can be retrieved more easily. Today EMR’s available in the market ensure that the physician or other healthcare providers have fewer keystrokes in feeding information. Such systems are potentially becoming faster than the paper system and are saving time. EMR’s are also very useful in insurance claims, as it can be handle such data in a better manner (Torrey, 2008).
The use of the EMR may also have certain barriers, problems and interoperability issues. It may be very difficult for a staff member to work with the EMR as they are not familiar with the system and have complex training needs. Constantly, as the EMR system is upgraded, the staff members have to be trained. Each time the EMR is implemented or upgraded, initially following the implementation, there are numerous problems which the staff might face. Implementing an EMR system may have huge costs. It is over time with successful implementation and with solving the various problems with use, the cost benefits are seen. There may be huge ethical issues with the EMR system as often if safe networks do not exist, information may leak out. The use of the EMR systems requires certain consistency in medical terminologies, codes, software and hardware used specifications, etc. If these are not consistent, the EMR system will simply not work (Open Clinical, 2008).
Burt, C. W. (2008, October 15). Electronic Medical Record Use by Office-Based Physicians:United States, 2005. Retrieved April 21, 2009, from CDC-NCHS: http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/products/pubs/pubd/hestats/electronic/electronic.htm
HIMSS Analytics. (2006, January 26). Electronic Medical Record Records vs vs. Electronic Health Record . Records:Yes, There Is a Difference. Retrieved April 21, 2009, from HIMSS: http://www.himssanalytics.org/docs/WP_EMR_EHR.pdf
O’Niel, L. (2007). Electronic medical records for a rural family practice: a case study in systems development. J Med Syst , 31(1):25-33.
Open Clinical. (2008, November 8). Electronic Medical Records, Electronic Health Records … Retrieved April 21, 2009, from Open Clinical: http://www.openclinical.org/emr.html
Torrey, T. (2008, February 8). The Benefits of Electronic Medical Records (EMRs). Retrieved April 21, 2009, from About: http://patients.about.com/od/electronicpatientrecords/a/EMRbenefits.htm
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