Having the right information about your health history is essential if you expect a provider to care for you properly. In the past, they would have to gain access to your medical records to learn your history. If you were going to be visiting a specialist in a different area, or if you were changing providers, this would require sending them your records. Even if you were visiting doctors in the same facility, it could sometimes be problematic for them to get the records they needed.
The Rise of Electronic Health Records (EHR)
However, things are much easier today thanks to electronic health records or EHR. These records are digitized, and it allows providers to more easily manage patient care since it is so much simpler to share patient records. Patients today should expect that their healthcare providers are using these types of records, as they can provide a wide range of benefits.
No Lost Records
Even in a quality facility, there is always the chance that a medical record could become lost. A provider might take it back to his or her office while it is needed by another provider. With the old paper system, it was also possible for the records to be misfiled, which would mean creating another record for the patient. There is always the chance that something could be missed if this were to occur. Since the electronic health records are digital, this problem is severely reduced. You should never have to worry about someone losing your medical records.
Some people might be worried about having all their information digital because they worry about security. However, the truth is that it can improve security substantially. Many providers, groups, and hospitals utilize secure servers that help to ensure the safety of the patient’s confidential files. While there is a remote possibility that someone could hack into the server to get the information, it is unlikely. In addition, new technologies are helping to make the information even more secure. Only those who are authorized to have access to the information will be able to read them.
Just consider how unsafe the medical records were before. When they were on a chart and in a folder, it was easy for anyone to pick them up and read them, even if they were not authorized. You no longer need to worry about providers leaving the files where anyone can access them.
Another one of the huge benefits for patients is the fact that the records can be more accurate. Due to the way that they are created, it is impossible for a provider to leave information out of the record. If they were to forget something, a prompt would pop up so they remember to fill it in. They are required to use standard terminology on the records, and many times, there are checkboxes they can fill in. Another large benefit of these systems is the fact that you no longer need to worry about providers having illegible writing. This means other providers will not misread something that another provider could have written.
Have you ever had to wait for your chart to get to a provider before you could be seen? You could be waiting a long time, and that’s the last thing you need. With electronic health records, access to your information is instantaneous. This can help you in many ways. Not only will the provider have the information needed to see you, it also makes it faster to receive lab results, imaging results, prescription orders, and more. In addition, as soon as the provider creates their progress notes, they are entered into the chart.
These records can be shared across multiple facilities, as well. The different providers can have access to the records at the same time. This could be helpful if you have been sent to a specialist who wants to speak with your primary care provider about your health. They can both look at the record.
The electronic health records are important for patient safety, as well. The physicians will have the correct information at their fingertips when they need it, and there is no risk that another doctor forgot to write something down on your chart. This is also very helpful for managing medications. The doctors will have access to the medications you are taking and it makes it easier to ensure they do not prescribe any meds that could cause problems for you.
As you can see, the electronic health records are changing the healthcare field for the better. Hospitals of all sizes should start using these types of records for their own benefits and for the benefits of the patients under their care. Always try to work with facilities that are using this method for patient records.