Wednesday, August 1, 2012
The newest big thing in healthcare is Electronic Health Records. An EHR is an electronic version of a patient’s records that a doctor maintains. It will generally consist of the data that is relevant to the patient’s overall care. Some of the information kept in a patient’s EHR is notes, problems, medications, vital signs, immunizations, lab data, and medical history. This electronic record allows a doctor or caregiver to access all the most important information that pertains to a patient’s health and course of care. It can also help speed up and streamline the doctor’s work. The ease of interfacing with other care-related activities also lends to the quality of care that the patient needs.
Reduction in Errors
An electronic health record can improve upon the care given by reducing the risk of errors due to the more accurate recording of data. A patient’s health information is more readily available and can mean a lifesaving reduction in delay of treatment if needed. The patient will be kept better informed, so that they, along with their doctor, can make the best decisions concerning their care.
The use of electronic health records is on such a steady rise that by the year 2014 the majority of hospitals, doctor’s offices, and medical centers will be using the digital form of record keeping. This will also ease the complexity of sharing a patient’s health information between different doctors, when a patient requires more than one doctor, or when a patient decides to make a change from one provider to another.
The patient’s privacy is also protected when an EHR is in use thanks to a federal law called the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). It protects a patient’s records, billing information, family information, insurance information, and any conversation they’ve had with their doctors. Any attempt by an unauthorized person to gain access to a patient’s EHR will set off an alarm within the system. Healthcare providers only have the access they need to do their specific job, too. Any provider who uses this new way to store records is required by the federal law to carry the proper security measures such as hardware and software as a safeguard.
As a parent, the best part of this is that any parent is granted access to their child’s electronic records. This brings enormous peace of mind. While not all the facilities that are currently using the EHR system have set up parental access, they will soon. If you are seeing a provider that already offers this service make sure you contact them and ask what they need from you so that you can keep up to date on your child’s care. In any case you can always request a paper copy or a CD-ROM of your records. There may be a fee attached for that access, but when it comes to your healthcare it’s worth it. Patient-owned records are very handy and useful when you are dealing with a chronic illness and receive care at multiple healthcare institutions.
The electronic health record is a very big step in the right direction for healthcare. It gives a certain feeling of control back to the patient and sometimes that can mean everything.
Mercedes Potter is a part of an elite team of writers who have contributed to hundreds of blogs and news sites. She loves new technology and details some of the best in the health industry within this guest post. Follow her @CedesPotter to see what else she's been talking about.