What are EMRs?
EMRs are, at their simplest, digital (computerized) versions of patients’ paper charts. But EMRs, when fully up and running, are so much more than that. EMRs are real-time, patient-centered records. One of the key features of an EMR is that it can be created, managed, and consulted by authorized providers and staff across more than one health care organization. A single EMR can bring together information from current and past doctors, emergency facilities, school and workplace clinics, pharmacies, laboratories, and medical imaging facilities. They make information available instantly, whenever and wherever it is needed. And they bring together in one place everything about a patient’s health. Some of the benefits of EMRs include:
Improved quality and convenience of patient care
Increased patient participation of patient care
Improved accuracy of diagnoses and health outcome
Improved care coordination
Improved Quality and Convenience of Patient Care:
Reduced need to fill out the same forms at each office visit
Reliable point-of-care information and reminders notifying providers of important health interventions
Convenience of e-prescriptions electronically sent to pharmacy
Patient portals with online interaction for providers
Electronic referrals allowing easier access to follow-up care with specialists
Improved Patient Participation in their Care:
Providers and patients who share access to electronic health information can collaborate in informed decision making. Electronic medical records (EMRs) can help providers:
Ensure high-quality care. With EMRs, providers can give patients full and accurate information about all of their medical evaluations. Providers can also offer follow-up information after an office visit or a hospital stay, such as self-care instructions, reminders for other follow-up care, and links to web resources.
Create an avenue for communication with their patients. With EMRs, providers can manage appointment schedules electronically and exchange e-mail with their patients. Quick and easy communication between patients and providers may help providers identify symptoms earlier.
Improved Accuracy of Diagnoses and Health Outcomes:
With EMRs, providers can have reliable access to a patient’s complete health information. This comprehensive picture can help providers diagnose patients’ problems sooner.
A qualified EMR not only keeps a record of a patient’s medications or allergies, it also automatically checks for problems whenever a new medication is prescribed and alerts the clinician to potential conflicts.
Information gathered by a primary care provider and recorded in an EMR tells a clinician in the emergency department about a patient’s life-threatening allergy, and emergency staff can adjust care appropriately, even if the patient is unconscious.
Improved Care Coordination:
Electronic medical record (EMR) systems can decrease the fragmentation of care by improving care coordination. EMRs have the potential to integrate and organize patient health information and facilitate its instant distribution among all authorized providers involved in a patient’s care. For example, EMR alerts can be used to notify providers when a patient has been in the hospital, allowing them to proactively follow up with the patient.
With EMRs, every provider can have the same accurate and up-to-date information about a patient. This is especially important with patients who are:
Seeing multiple specialists
Making transitions between care settings
Receiving treatment in emergency settings