It’s undeniable that healthcare is serious business, and it entails a lot of different processes like any other kind of operation. Back in the day before technology intervened, health records were jammed into file cabinets that took up so much space and required more time and energy to catalog and sift through. It took up a big portion of time during medical procedures; time that could have been used for actual healthcare.
It’s where electronic health records came in to take the load off and free up time and effort. This has given health professionals less busywork and more leeway to do their actual jobs in taking care of patients. They could have just done away with keeping records altogether and just treat patients as they come, but being able to track their medical histories is a major part of the process.
Benefits of Electronic Health Records
To get a better understanding of what electronic health records have done for the medical profession, here are the 10 benefits the technology brings.
1. Less Paper
Take note, it’s not “paperless” per se. Paper records and forms are still good to this day due to their tangibility and simplicity. However, having so much of it lying around does slow things down, which is where electronic health records come in. A good approach is to use paper at times when writing things down with a pen is more convenient and have everything else entered in the computer.
Aside from having less paper to deal with, electronic health records make processing much faster since you can search for records easier. What would have taken minutes to catalog and file, and then to sift through and browse, now takes seconds to do. Time is always of the essence when it comes to healthcare. Electronic health records are indeed one of the biggest time saving measures in modern medicine.
Don’t think of putting things the easy way as an act of laziness, especially when it comes to busywork like maintaining health records for your practice. It’s not just for efficiency’s sake, but minimizing stress levels is also very important in day-to-day operations. It also minimizes confusion and expenditure of energy considering that everything will be in a single computer database, allowing you to breathe more easily and focus on the task at hand.
4. Ease of Access
Being able to dig up a returning patient’s record quickly not only saves time, but also makes everything else run more smoothly. Ease of access goes hand in hand with the convenience of having health records be filed in digital form, which is something that doctors found to be a great thing since the early days of computing technology. In turn, it has been a boon to the medical profession as a whole.
5. Safer Prescriptions
Being able to dig up someone’s health record easily means that you have reference to that patient’s history in each and every session, and thus you can make safer prescriptions knowing that you won’t miss out on details as much. This is very important for patient safety and helps with saving even more lives compared to a practice where electronic health records isn’t present.
A great thing about electronic health records is that you can share them with other peers and colleagues easily. Back in the day with the old fashioned way, you have to photocopy and send it through something like fax or physical delivery. But with electronic health records, you’re able to coordinate with other health professionals, even if they’re halfway around the world away from you. This has made medical practice a truly global endeavor.
7. Constant Improvement
Paper will always be paper, while electronic health records software can be updated to include bug fixes and new features. You can also learn to improve the way you handle health records and make necessary changes more quickly since you can just alter things on the computer instead of writing things down from scratch on paper. This affords you the ever-present opportunity to change and improve on things when necessary.
8. Potential Savings
Keeping and maintaining health records is a cornerstone of any practice, so investing in an electronic health records system is something of a necessity these days. But while it may cost money to acquire and maintain, you can potentially save a lot more by making things run more quickly and smoothly. Less time spent on busywork means more time spent on treating patients, and thus being able to treat more patients each day, which translates to more revenue for the practice.
9. Fewer Errors
As good as doctors can be in their jobs, they’re still only humans who are susceptible to occasional mistakes. Similar to the previous item regarding safer prescriptions, being able to get a hold of health records in an efficient and consistent manner contributes much to patient safety and treatment success.
10. Meaningful Use
The term “meaningful use” is used in the medical field to describe how electronic health records technology can help improve quality, safety, efficiency, and health disparities. It’s based on a set of criteria that culminates in benefits that include the ones mentioned here on this very list. When an EHR system fulfills all the criteria, it’s certified for Meaningful Use, which tells medical professionals that it can greatly help their practice.
Its importance is often overlooked, but being able to manage health records easily is indeed very important in any medical practice. Perhaps it’s not as widely understood since it can be a busywork, but it’s usually the supposedly boring details that really count in just about everything in this world. When you make drudgery less of an inconvenience and a source of inefficiency, the bigger the potential for effective results.