Pros and Cons of Electronic Health Records

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EHRs (Electronic Health Records) have been implemented around the world as part of an effort to increase the quality of care a patient receives. When paper records are used, they must be transmitted to additional doctors a patient might see – or a patient must correctly inform a new doctor of their pre-existing conditions. EHRs allow for instant access. This isn’t without some pros and cons.

The Pros of EHRs

1. Information can be shared with specialists easily.
A patient comes in with a headache. The doctor orders an MRI, but refers the results to a specialist. Using electronic health records, the specialist has direct access to the imaging results so a patient’s health can be discussed.

2. It enhances the quality of patient care.
Imagine a patient is relocated because of their work. They go to see their new doctor, but can’t remember everything their previous doctor talked about with their condition, such as the name of certain prescriptions. Instead of trying to guess at it or obtain alternate records, a simple e-request can give the new doctor access to this data.

3. It limits the chances of identity theft.
Electronic records can include photo IDs that can stop the growing field of medical identity theft.

The Cons of EHRs

1. They are not 100% secure.
Compromised data has affected the way a number of businesses treat the storage of information. The medical industry is no different. An online record has the chance to be intercepted, read, and used without the permission of the patient.

2. It takes time and money to implement.
For EHRs to be accurate, they must have the original paper records either scanned in or entered in manually. There must be software installed that can maintain these records and add new information to them as needed. This comes with a time and monetary cost.

3. It is required to receive Medicare/Medicaid funding.
In the US, to receive government payments for qualifying care, a medical provider must show they have been making progress toward electronic health record conversion. For some clinics, it has been more cost-effective to stop treating certain patients, reducing overall care.

The pros and cons of electronic health records show that when it is implemented correctly, it can be of a great benefit to doctors and patients. As long as the negative components of this process are accounted for at each step, the future of patient care looks bright indeed thanks to EHRs.