A medical record is data collected by the medical practitioner from the patient, concerning the disease and it’s history, onset, tests done, previous treatment and the prognosis. Until recently, these records were hand written by the doctor and were arranged as physical files. With advances in technology and easy access to computers, the tedious process of listing details on paper has been simplified by electronic media.
Electronic Medical Records (EMR) is a digital adaptation of the conventional file folder with an added function of having a range of data, including demographics, medical history, medication and allergies, immunization status, laboratory test results, radiology images, vital signs, personal statistics like age and weight, and billing information which allows easy access to patient information.
Advantages of EMR over paper:
- EMR records time-stamped data. It can help detail how the patient’s symptoms have changed over time or how the treatment is working for them.
- It helps identify patients who are due for appointments or vaccinations.
- It records patients’ basic parameters like blood pressure, blood glucose readings and other vital signs. This helps compare previous readings at a single glance as the data is systematically collected in one place.
- EMRs help in improving the overall decisions with regard to the course of treatment to be adopted as the physician friendly interface minimises the error of missing out on information.
- A lot of time is saved with the use of Electronic Medical Records as the task of looking for information is eliminated. All the information like patients’ symptoms, test reports, course of treatment, allergies are compiled and are easy to compare.
- Shortened waiting times at clinics/hospitals due to lesser time spent retrieving medical records.
- Streamlined work process.
- Doctors can use their Electronic Records for patient comparisons and case studies.
EMR technology has great utility, but it has certain loopholes which need to be addressed before it can be used on a larger scale. Concerns about the safety of data and privacy have slowed the penetration of EMR services, but players in the industry are working on solutions to address these issues.
Electronic medical records have shown us that with the proper combinations of men and machinery, a streamlined and effective mechanism can be developed. Most of the flaws of this system are being addressed, and the future for EMRs look promising.