Advancements in medical records technology are growing at steady rates. These advancements are designed to assist the physicians as well as the patients. A growing trend in medical records technology is the use of EMR – Electronic medical records. The 8th Annual Conference of the Lebanese Society of Family Medicine indicated that there are over 770,000 adverse drug related issues a year and 70% of those were preventable if electronic medical records had been implemented. Physicians groups, private practices and hospitals have various reasons for avoiding the implementation of this service. Costs, software compatibility and time constraints are just a few of these reasons. However, there are three ways that physicians can benefit greatly from the use of EMR or electronic medical records software in their practices.
Immediate Patient Treatment History
Physicians have to rely on their patients to give them a previous patient treatment history. This history is in the form of a small amount of paperwork the patient fills out on their first visit. The truth is that this information may be inaccurate or missing vital procedures and treatments. Records can be ordered from previous hospitals and physicians with a large amount of turnaround time attached to the request. With the use of electronic medical records, a physician can have immediate access to the treatments and procedures and be better able to access the condition the patient is dealing with currently.
Avoiding Drug Interactions and Complications
Patients cannot be expected to remember every detail of previous treatments, medicines and procedures. This is especially true of elderly patients or patients with extensive treatment backgrounds such as cancer treatments and heart complications. A very high percentage of patients with extensive treatment histories may have been on several medications and unable to remember why they removed from one medication and placed on another. In some cases, the patient is not clearly informed a reason for a medication change. With the use of electronic medical records, a physician can see previous offices, hospitals and physicians notes to clearly see a pattern with medication treatments. This allows a physician to avoid weeks, if not months, of testing medications or issuing the wrong medication based on inaccurate medical information regarding the patient.
Avoiding Inaccurate Diagnosis During Referrals
When physicians make a referral for a patient they have to trust that the medical records will be transcribed, up to date and transferred in time for the referral appointment. Unfortunately, due to staffing issues the transcription and transport of medical records may take several weeks to complete. This means that the referring doctor may not have the most accurate and up to date information for a patient during a referral. This can and has led to inaccurate diagnosis, poor treatment plans and in some cases greater health risks for the patient. Implementing an electronic medical records system between physicians in a referral plan, by county or by state could decrease referral issues greatly allowing the physicians to communicate immediately regardless of the transcription time and transmitting of the hardcopy records.