Although the growth of the healthcare industry continues to bring about many technological changes, one of the most beneficial advancements in the creation and use of electronic medical records. An electronic medical record is a digital version of a patient’s paper charts that are typically found in clinics, hospitals, and clinician offices. Electronic medical records are probably one of the most important mandates of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Electronic medical records offer many benefits, but their main purpose is to allow healthcare professionals to provide better quality healthcare to patients.
What is an Electronic Medical Record?
Electronic medical records are copies of a patient’s medical records that are in a digital version as opposed to on paper and stored in a file cabinet. When a patient visits a doctor, everything is stored electronically on a computer from the minute the patient enters the receptionist area and checks in as a patient. Although electronic medical records are used to aid in the documentation of patient care, they’re also extremely helpful in other areas, including tracking preventative care and billing.
Benefits of Electronic Medical Records
The benefits of electronic medical records are many with the most obvious being efficiency. When a patient visited a clinic in the past, the receptionist had to sort through a file cabinet and look for a paper file and hope it was in order. Today, all the receptionist or nurse has to do is type in the patient’s name, date of birth, or medical records number, and the patient’s entire medical history pops up starting with the patient’s history and most recent visit. EMRs save both the patient and healthcare provider time because any tests that have already been performed are easily accessible for the provider’s review. There are many other benefits to an electronic medical record including:
- Identify patients in need of follow-up visits
- Send alerts to patients in need of tests, immunizations or screenings
- Monitor a patient’s condition
- Aids in more efficient and accurate billing
- Helps providers track medical data over time
- More cost-effective and time-saving than paper files
- More secure
Electronic Medical Records vs. Personal Health Records vs. Electronic Health Records
When we hear the terms electronic medical records, electronic health records, and personal health records, we tend to lump them all together as meaning the same thing, however, according to the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, they are very different.
• Electronic medical records (EMRs) are the digital version of a patient’s medical history at a clinic or hospital. Everything about that patient’s medical history is in the digital file and can be accessed by clinical personnel at that facility.
• Electronic health records (EHRs) are also digital versions of a patient’s paper charts, but they go beyond just that facility. Other healthcare providers outside of that facility can access the patient’s file. The EHRs are available to specialists, laboratories, or even healthcare providers across the country.
• Personal Health Records (PHRs) hold the same information as EHRs but are designed to be accessed by the patient. The patient can view his or her medical history and be aware of diagnoses, treatments, and medications.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that healthcare jobs should grow about 18% between 2016 and 2026, resulting in approximately 2.4 million new jobs. With electronic health records being used in every area of the healthcare industry, careers for candidates knowledgeable of EMRs are very much in demand now and will continue to be in the foreseeable future.
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