Information Technology (IT) is making the lives of people easier. It facilitates ease of record-keeping, managing files, accessing records, and even dispensing important information. The health care industry could greatly benefit from using IT.
Through this, services can be automated, monitoring could be more easily done, and both patients and health care practitioners can enjoy faster delivery of service.
When a person goes to a hospital or clinic and needs medical assistance, various types of data are taken so that medical practitioners would know the situation of the patient and understand the types of medical care needed.
Medical records may come in the form of various media such as X-rays, papers filled out, personal profile, and photos that are necessary in delivering health services. In most places in the United States and around the world, these medical records are stored in physical storage areas (Murphy, 1999).
The problem with physical records is the manner of storing them. Since the records come in various shapes and sizes, the storage areas could require big spaces and furniture.
Medical records also tend to be stored in different places because a patient may consult different clinics, different doctors for various kinds of illnesses. In cases of emergency, medical records may be difficult to access and transport for the use of physicians. Likewise, there are associated copying, and communication costs in transmitting medical records from one health care facility to another (Murphy, 1999).
About 14% of hospitalization in 2004 occurred because the medical records are simply unavailable. Likewise, 20% of lab results need to be repeated because the records could not be accessed during the period of treatment or care.
These repetitions contribute to inefficiency and cost. If medical records are automated and made electronic, then efficiency may go up by 6% annually. Although the implementation of electronic medical records may be costly, this can be offset by the savings generated from the tests and admissions that are no longer necessary because of more accurate and readily available medical records (Evans, Nichol, & Perlin, 2006).
Medical records that are handwritten tend to be unreliable, especially so if the writing is illegible. When somebody else interprets such records, it might lead to mistakes and medical errors. Electronic records therefore reduce these types of errors and even lead to standardization of forms and records.
When they are encoded into databases, then it would become a rich source of data for clinical studies and epidemiology (Kohn, Corrigan, & Donaldson, 1999). Briefly, the following benefits could be enjoyed by both health care professionals and patients if electronic health records are implemented.
Medical errors will be reduced by EHR systems. As such, health professionals can avoid litigation over medical malpractice and they can be more efficient in health care delivery. Furthermore, costs can be reduced. Although implementing the system initially may be costly, in the long run, this will improve the cost-effectiveness of health care delivery. Another benefit would be the easier access to medical records.
Since such medical records shall be stored in databases that could be accessed by medical practitioners who are allowed to do so. Implementing an EHR system would therefore be in the best interests of a hospital, a clinic and the medical industry in general because of the possibilities of inter-connection and the benefits that such systems offer (Raymond & Dold, 2002).