Healthcare organizations across the United States have made the transition from paper-based document management systems to storing records electronically. An electronic health record (EHR) is a computerized collection of patient information in a digital format. The importance of electronic health records is that they facilitate sharing of patient data such as medical records, charts, medications and test results across multiple healthcare environments.
What Are the Benefits of Electronic Health Records?
Examples of the numerous benefits of electronic medical records in hospitals and other healthcare facilities include:
- Improved Quality of Care: Computerized notes are often easier to read than a physician's handwriting. This reduces the risk of errors and misinterpretations that can negatively impact the quality of patient care.
- Convenience and Efficiency: Medical and office staff no longer have to waste time sorting through cumbersome paper records. Users can access electronic health records quickly and efficiently with just a few strokes on a keyboard.
- Saving Space: Electronic health records eliminate the need to store documents in bulky file cabinets, which frees up more space in the office for medical supplies and equipment and other essentials.
- Patient Access: Many EHR systems include a patient portal that allows patients to view their medical history and information whenever they wish.
- Financial Incentives: Installing a certified EHR can help you fulfill the Meaningful Use requirements for Medicaid and Medicare, making you eligible for various incentives from the federal government.
What Are the Disadvantages of Electronic Health Records?
There are also several disadvantages of electronic medical records, such as:
- Potential Privacy and Security Issues: As with just about every computer network these days, EHR systems are vulnerable to hacking, which means sensitive patient data could fall into the wrong hands.
- Inaccurate Information: Because of the instantaneous nature of electronic health records, they must be updated immediately after each patient visit — or whenever there is a change to the information. The failure to do so could mean other healthcare providers will rely on inaccurate data when determining appropriate treatment protocols.
- Frightening Patients Needlessly: Because an electronic health record system enables patients to access their medical data, it can create a situation where they misinterpret a file entry. This can cause undue alarm, or even panic.
- Malpractice Liability Concerns: There are several potential liability issues associated with EHR implementation. For example, medical data could get lost or destroyed during the transition from a paper-based to a computerized EHR system, which could lead to treatment errors. Since doctors have greater access to medical data via EHR, they can be held responsible if they do not access all the information at their disposal.
Gallagher Healthcare Can Help Minimize the Risk of Electronic Health Records
As the largest medical malpractice broker in the U.S., Gallagher Healthcare provides insurance coverage that can mitigate your liability risks when using an EHR system. We can tailor a plan that meets your practice's or facility's unique requirements. Contact us for more information and a no-obligation quote today.