Medical records are an essential part of the relationship between patients and their doctors. There are pros and cons to keeping medical records on paper, so many health care facilities are considering the switch to electronic medical records (EMRs). This technology makes accessing and updating records fast and easy for doctors and nurses.
A major benefit of electronic medical records is the way that a patient's records can be organized. Paper files can easily be lost in a file room at the clinic, but an EMR for a patient is stored on a network that is accessible throughout the facility. Information technology professionals are also trying to find the best way to open up the network to doctors throughout the country in case a patient needs to be sent to a specialist in another city.
EMRs give doctors quick access to patient files. Facilities that are equipped with this technology provide computers in each of the patients' rooms and in many procedure rooms. The patient's file can be accessed from any of these monitors to update medications, conditions, and procedures that have been performed on the patient.
When a patient's electronic medical record is accessible by more than one doctor, better health decisions can be made for that patient. Too often a patient is sent from doctor to doctor when health issues appear to be serious or have yet to be diagnosed. These doctors may not have the chance to communicate or send the patient's medical records to each facility. In this instance, the patient may be subjected to repeated or unnecessary procedures because of the lack of communication.
EMRs will also allow for better standardization throughout the health care system when it comes to keeping patient records. Some medical facilities use different terminology for the same procedures. Other facilities use forms that are completely different from another facility's. EMRs can provide a standard way of filling out information on a patient's record that will make it easier for all doctors and nurses to find the information they need for each patient.
Patients will also have additional rights when doctors use electronic medical records. Some EMR systems will allow patients access to a secure site on the Internet to access test results and other important information from their medical record. This helps patients better understand their health-care choices. Patients with limited access to their own EMRs will be better informed and can be proactive with decisions they need to make.
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