An electronic medical record, also known as EMR, is defined as an electronic compilation of one’s healthcare information. (More about EMRs) It is an electronic database containing information about the medical history, allergies, medications, vaccinations, prior hospitalizations & visits, procedures & surgeries, radiology images, laboratory results, vital signs and statistics, and all relevant medical information.
EMRs simplify access to a patient’s medical history even if the patient is not in position to talk (e.g. comatose), or paper records are not available, or even if the patient is in a remote location. Since all medical data is stored in a single digital file, it becomes very easy to review a person’s complete medical information in one place.
Research suggests that EMRs are proving to be helpful in improving clinical outcomes of patients significantly. Studies especially mention that this practice has remarkably reduced the mortality rates of heart attack, respiratory failure and small intestine surgery. Here we review research that mentions three cases greatly impacted by EMRs use:
EMRs and diabetes
A study published in the Sept 2011 issue of the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine provides concrete proof of EMRs helping improve clinical outcomes of people suffering from diabetes as compared to health care centres which employ paper records to track patient health. Patients who were monitored using EMRs had their glycosylated haemoglobin checked at regular intervals, their kidney functions were monitored regularly, and they even underwent routine eye check-ups. The result was that patients achieved lower levels of glycosylated haemoglobin, blood pressure, and LDL cholesterol, and thus had better outcomes.
EMRs and preventive medicine
Electronic reminders can be easily generated through EMRs, and these reminders help keep track of preventive and ongoing services for patients suffering from chronic diseases such as diabetes & hypertension. Reminders help those suffering from lifestyle disorders maintain their health at optimum levels. More examples include timely immunizations for children or blood glucose monitoring for risk groups, all of whom greatly benefit from regular reminders. Multiple medical conditions can be monitored better while increasing patients’ awareness regarding their condition and its management.
EMRs and epidemiology
EMR have been used successfully in epidemiological analyses, which eventually help improve clinical outcomes. As all data is available compiled and ready for analysis, researchers can easily make comparisons and identify incidence & prevalence of diseases across demographics. All such statistics contribute in helping develop better prophylactic schemes and reducing disease incidence.
Thus, we find that EMRs help immensely in improving clinical outcomes of various diseases. They also help in preventing, controlling, recognizing diseases and in collecting data for epidemiological studies. It would thus be extremely beneficial to the population at large if EMR services are set up at all health care levels.
– Contributed by Dr. Rachita Narsaria, MD
- Gunter, Tracy D; Terry, Nicolas P. The Emergence of National Electronic Health Record Architectures in the United States and Australia: Models, Costs, and Questions. Journal of Medical Internet Research. 2005. 7 (1): e3.
- Cebul, R.D., Love, T.E., Jain, A.K., and Hebert, C.J. Electronic health records and quality of diabetes care. N. Engl. J. Med. 2011; 365: 825–833
- Kamal KM, Chopra I, Elliott JP, Mattei TJ. Use of electronic medical records for clinical research in the management of type 2 diabetes Res Social Adm Pharm. 2014 Jan 22. pii: S1551-7411(14)00002-3. doi: 10.1016/j.sapharm.2014.01.001.
- Brady TM, Neu AM, Miller ER 3rd, Appel LJ, Siberry GK, Solomon BS. Real-Time Electronic Medical Record Alerts Increase High Blood Pressure Recognition in Children. Clin Pediatr (Phila). 2014 Nov 20. pii: 0009922814559379.