Electronic Health Records Systems Basics

Technological advances are growing in leaps and bounds and the medical field is keeping up with the trends. It should come as no surprise that the medical community is making a shift to electronic health records.

Simply put, an electronic health record, or EHR, is a digital version of a patient’s paper medical chart.

But, the information contained in an EHR goes beyond the scope of a traditional paper chart. Way beyond, much to the benefit of the patients being treated.id-100416771

 

There are two serious advantages to medical practitioners going digital:

  • EHRs are all inclusive. In addition to general medical histories like medications, diagnoses, and treatment plans, EHRs also contain information like test results, lab results, and radiology images. This also includes mental health diagnoses, treatments, and medications.
  • EHRs are designed to share. The data contained within EHRs can be very easily shared with other medical providers. This transfer of information is immediate, a real advantage in situations where time is of the essence. The short turnaround time is also a great improvement for patients waiting for test results. They no longer have to wait days, but can usually have results the same day as their tests.

 

EHRs and HIPAA

is the About Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. It was enacted in 1996 as a response to the spread of electronic records keeping by medical professionals.

Title II of the act zeroes in on digital data management of health records. There are certain rules and requirements that must be adhered to in an effort to keep personal information secure.

Without getting too technical, the laws in regards to safety and security basically address such issues as:

  • Doctors and any other healthcare entities must disclose to patients where and how their information has been shared.
  • Access to facilities where medical records are kept must be restricted.
  • Data must only be transmitted over secure servers.

The consequences for refusing to follow the HIPAA guidelines can be severe. Fines for a violation can be as high as . Civil or criminal proceedings could also result from a lack of adherence to the HIPAA mandates.

 

What’s the Difference Between EHRs and EMRs?

While EHRs are electronic health records, EMRs are electronic medical records. They are used interchangeably by some, but they do have some differences.

EMRs are digital versions of a paper medical chart. They are generally accessed within the one office the patient has visited.

EHRs are also digital medical charts, but they are meant to be shared with the whole gamut of medical professionals that a patient sees. This includes specialists and other practitioners, in addition to their PCPs.

EHRs cover a wider range and present a broader contextual picture of a patient’s history. The word “health” includes physical, mental, and emotional components. It is a much more comprehensive view of the patient as a whole.

 

Choosing a Vendor

As the popularity of electronic health record systems grows, so do the vendors that sell the necessary software.

Before looking into possible vendors, assess what specific needs you have. Each medical center or practitioner’s office will have individual requirements to make their facility run smoothly.

There are many considerations to make, depending on the area of specialty.

Do enough until a reputable vendor, like , is found.

 

Image courtesy of [jk1991] at FreeDigitalPhotos.net


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