Electronic records are known for improving the efficiency and organization of any records system, no matter what discipline they are utilized. The field of medicine is one discipline that would benefit most in the use of electronic records. An electronic health record offers a lot of possibilities, since it contains valuable information on a patient, such as a very detailed medical history. This paper explores the many different potentials of electronic health records, as well as policy implications that deserve serious consideration.
This paper likewise notes, through data gathered from existing literature, the process taken by hospitals and physicians in adopting the electronic health records system. Finally, this paper discusses the varying barriers to full adoption and the things that can be done to remove such barriers. Introduction. The American Association for the Advancement of Science reported that electronic health records were not the first of its kind. As early as the late 1980s, there was already a shift from paper-based records to electronic-based ones, albeit such records did not exclusively pertain to medicine or health care.
Indeed, as of that period, there were already a variety of different kinds of electronic databases available in various online systems (Williams, 1985). An electronic health record is described as a “seamless patient record that crosses the continuum of care. ” Based on the definition provided by the Department of Health and Human Services, it is a “digital collection of a patient’s medical history and could include items like diagnosed medical conditions, prescribed medications, vital signs, immunizations, lab results, and personnel characteristics like age and weight” (Healthcare Financial Management Association, 2006).
In today’s day and age, electronic health records have been pushed for adoption by several stakeholders, but the system is yet to be fully adopted by concerned institutions. The nature and functions of electronic health records were discussed by a committee that belonged to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies (Key Capabilities of an Electronic Health Record System, 2003). The said core care delivery functions include patient support, management of results, order and data, and electronic communication (Key Capabilities of an Electronic Health Record System, 2003).
Other functions include electronic connectivity, clinical decision support, patient access, data capture, results management, order management, and administrative processes (Healthcare Financial Management Association, 2006). These functions are the reasons why electronic health records are very useful in improving efficiency, quality and safety in the delivery of health care services (Key Capabilities of an Electronic Health Record System, 2003).
Thus, any hospital or staff or physician who needs information on a certain patient should be able to access data through the computerized repository of information. Thus, the healthcare team and other partners would be able to sync their actions with the end of serving the best interests of the patient. Even patients themselves would be able to have remote access to their personal health records (Healthcare Financial Management Association, 2006).