Electronic Medical records are a longitudinal collection of electronic health information that profile patients’ information electronically to enhance quality, safety, and efficiency in delivery of services in health care delivery systems. They are designed in a manner that allows storage, retrieval, and manipulation of records. In the modern day, EMR is central in any computerized health information system (Open clinical, not dated). The EMR is so important that without it some modern medical technologies such as decision support systems would be rendered useless. One of its most important features is that it allows interoperability, provision of services by multiple providers, multi specialty, and use across multiple computerized medical records. This has made it a great asset for researchers, medical practitioners, administrators, and policy makers.
Functions of Electronic Medical records
This is used to document patients’ visits information through the use of forms or templates (EMR experts, 2009). This information can be patients’ history of illness, present ailment, physical examination results, and system reviews. This is applied by use of drop down boxes, handwriting recognition or voice recognition.
Order Communication Systems
This enables the physician to communicate with external systems such as the laboratory, theaters, pharmacies, and imaging centers. Through the system, the physician can make lab requests, make prescriptions and make requests among other functions. This is sometimes referred to as computerized physician order entry (EMR experts, 2009).
Clinical Decision-Making Support Systems
EMR is used in many medical facilities to make decisions by availing recommendations, remembers, and alerts automatically to the health care provider. By comparing the information that is input by the physicians regarding a patient and matching it with the available database and the patients maintenance profile, the system is able to make a recommendation. In the same way, the physicians automatically perform coding and diagnosis from the information availed by the patient. The systems also help in performing billing for the patients.
This helps to manage the incoming paperwork which includes: patient intake forms, faxes, lab reports, and physician letters thereby helping to keep the working environment tidy. They also assist physician to manage images such as x-rays, ultra sounds, and magnetic resonance images (MRI).
This facility enables patients to remotely secure access to their medical records from any corner of the world as long as they can supply authentication. They consist of automated features which include among other appointment scheduling, access to records, electronic intake forms and forms for assessment of outcomes, and patient education profile. The portal can also be used between providers if the patient allows their access to their electronic medical record (EMR experts, 2009).
Advantages of Electronic medical records
The greatest advantage of EBR is the replacement of paper based medical records which are usually ineligible, fragmented, and sometimes irretrievable (Spring, 2008). This helps in conservation of space and prevention of loss of critical data in medical facilities. When paperwork is being performed, data trail is sometimes lost and some parts left uncompleted as opposed to EMR which is fast in capturing information. The system also eases sharing of information, updating of information, conservation of accuracy, fast retrieval of information, and convenience. This makes diagnosis and treatment of diseases faster. It also brings enormous savings in terms of resource administration cost. In addition, they also make it possible to structure, automate and streamline workflow in clinics. This is because all the information is usually readily available during medical audits. It also allows integrated functionality such as monitoring, electronic prescribing, electronic referral radiology ordering and display of lab results
Disadvantages of EMR
EMTR comes with a high installation cost which could be unaffordable to private health care facilities. The cost of hardware, software, maintenance works, system upgrades, and replacement is sometimes unaffordable for small medical professionals. The rapidly changing nature of information systems requires constant training and retraining which is expensive. There is also the problem of resistance by potential users besides existing skepticism of its medical usefulness (Spring, 2008). The system is vulnerable to ethical issues of data security, confidentiality, and accuracy which compromise its trust by users. There is also sometimes the problem of system incompatibility between users in addition to lack or poor integration with other application across the system.
Continuous use and integration of information technology means that the EMR will play bigger roles in health care in future. For example, in recent times EMR could be enhanced to provide electronic treatment over remote locations. This could make it possible for doctors to respond fast to disasters and even prescribe medicine over remote locations.
EMR experts. (2009). EMR Functions. Web.
Open clinical. Electronic Medical Records, Electronic Health Records. 2010. Web.
Spring, M. (2008). EMR Advantages and Disadvantages. Web.