Electronic medical records (EMR) allow collection and maintenance of patient records digitally. A digital format helps in saving time spent in gathering past records. This is of significance in a developing country like India, which has a doctor patient ratio of 1:17001. Doctors are heavily burdened, and India is projected to fall short of 5 lakh Doctors by 20202. This necessitates that a faster, quicker and more reliable working option be made available to the doctors. EMR proves to be one such device which promises to help the over worked medical fraternity in many ways. However, the EMRs also benefit the patients in multiple ways.

Let’s consider the benefit a patient derives with the use of EMR:

Time saving

Retrieving the data from an EMR is a very easy and quick process. A doctor can save much of his working time and resultant waiting time for the patient in his waiting room. This can prove to be a great relief for patients who are in severe pain or experiencing severe discomfort as well as those belonging to the geriatric age group.

Emergencies

The medical electronic records are easily accessible to patients as well as doctors anywhere, anytime. This enables the patient to get vital data like blood group, drug reactions, allergies genetic history, drugs etc. at his fingertips, which proves vital during an emergency hospitalisation.

Safe Storage of data

The data in EMR is stored safely. Confidentiality of the patient is respected. This enables the patients to get the entire data even when they choose to switch over to a new physician. In case of insurance or legal purposes, the entire data is readily available.

E-prescribing

E-prescribing enables the physician to directly convey the prescription to the pharmacist. The pharmacist in turn has the time to keep the drugs ready before the patient approaches. This ensures that the drugs are neither misinterpreted due to illegibility and the patient’s spend less time waiting at the pharmacy. Out of stock medications can also be procured in this manner till the patient approaches the pharmacy.

Easy Scheduling

The EMR enables easy scheduling of appointments. In case appointments are cancelled, postponed or rescheduled, new appointments can be scheduled easily by sending emails or messages to the patients.

Reminders

Patients can be sent reminders as regards their investigations, change of drugs , preoperative care, vaccinations and appointments. This ensures that the patient reaches for the appointment after a complete work up is done.
Periodic reminders can be sent to patients to ensure regular follow ups for diseases like diabetes, orthopedic or other chronic disorders.

Community Health

EMR allows vast patient data to be stored in a small place devoid of physical damage. The physician or a health worker can have a quick glance over prevailing diseases in a particular location. This will enable preventive measures to be taken in time and totality. Patients can be sent mails as regards, prevalent diseases, prevention of diseases, prophylaxis etc. Thus epidemics can be prevented and community health protected. Lifestyle diseases prevalent in a demographic group can be known easily, thus reminder can be regularly stressing the need for gyms, exercises, yoga etc.

Thus, EMRs have a promising future with immense benefits for patients in a densely populated country like India.

Contributed by Dr. Rachita Narsaria, MD

References:

1-The New Indian Express. U Anand kumar.Published 22nd September 2013 12:00AM.

Last updated 22nd September 2013 09.33AM

http://www.newindianexpress.com/magazine/India-has-just-one-doctor-for-every-1700-people/2013/09/22/article1792010.ece

2-The Times Of India.Ranjana Diggikar.

Experts Predict A shortfall of 5 lakh Doctors inTNN. Jan 11 2015.03.36 am IST.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/aurangabad/Experts-project-shortfall-of-5L-docs/articleshow/45839051.cms

3-Varroud –Vial M.I mproving Diabetes management with electronic medicl records.Diabetes Metab.2011 Dec;37 Suppl 4:S48-52. doi: 10.1016/S1262-3636(11)70965-X.