Electronic Medical Records are legal databases created within different organizations to help healthcare providers access information about patients. Without these types of databases other modern technologies cannot be effectively integrated into routine clinical workflow. For example, decision support systems depend on EMR systems to help coordinate research and practice in different areas. Records about patients in this form make it easier for many organizations to keep organized and handle billing and services more effectively. These types of medical records have seemed to become quite a phenomenon in the healthcare industry because it has allowed care providers to be able to effectively gain access to a patient’s medical history to help better provide services to individuals.
In essence these records have the ability to save lives. This innovative idea gives doctors and other medical providers access to a database where all of these types of files are stored. The quick right of entry to the records can help to find ways to treat patients sooner and more effectively thus people are much healthier and happier. It also allows billing to be a much simpler process to make sure patients are only charged for services rendered. Although the idea of Electronic Medical Records seems to be a very easy and a useful tool, there have been many people and much time that has been spent in making this type of database access. A lot of hospitals have been recently moving to the practices of EMRs because they have found that it has led to a higher quality of patient care.
Doctors and nurses are finding out that they can access not only a patient’s medical records, but also lab results, body scans, and information about allergies and medication, which is wonderful news to healthcare providers and people in the medical field who provide care to individuals. Finger printing has also been recently rumored to be a new part of EMR access. In this paper we will explore a few things such as how EMR came about, what is going on with EMR now, opinions of EMR over time, and forecasting the future of EMRs.
History of EMR
Before the Electronic Medical Records, physicians could only document patient information and encounters by hand-writing it on paper. Dr. Lawrence Weed changed this concept when introduced the idea of EMR into medical practice in the late 1960’s. Weed was known as “father of the problem-oriented medical record (POMR).” Weed wanted to create a record that would allow a third party to verify the diagnosis. Another critical person in the establishment of EMR, was Dr. G. Octo Barnett. He worked to develop the Computer Stored Ambulatory Record (COSTAR) which supported patient care, billing, and follow up treatment. The Health Evaluation through Logical Processing (HELP) was also a key influence. Homer R. Warner led this team that provided support for health care professionals. He presented that computer systems would enhance the record keeping system while replacing paper. It wasn’t until 1972 when the Regenstreif Institute generated the first medical records system. Although the invention of the EMR developed a major advance in medical practice, it was not getting very much use. This innovation was expensive to obtain and many were skeptical of the privacy and confidentiality of EMR. In 1991, the highly esteemed Institute of Medicine suggested that by the year 2000, every physician should have implemented EMR into their office. The Institute of Medicine did a study in 1999, which concluded that preventable medical errors are caused by faulty systems and processes that could be prevented through adopting electronic medical records. A study of EMRs by the RAND Health Information Technology Project started in 2003. From this study they found hospitals and physicians would save money and significantly improve healthcare quality. Although the Electronic Medical Record has come a long way, it has not fully taken off.
What is going on now with EMR
There are an estimated 300 to 400 companies in the United States peddling electronic medical records (EMR) systems to the nation’s hospitals, medical clinics and solo practitioners. While some, such as GE Healthcare and NextGen Healthcare Information Systems, are part of corporate behemoths, the vast majority are small, privately held firms like eClinicalWorks. While large firms such as Allscripts-Misys Healthcare Solutions Inc. and NextGen Healthcare remain huge presences, industry observers say that the electronic medical records field is as open to smaller challengers as it has ever been.
One big factor working in the small companies’ favor: The majority of doctors’ offices that have yet to adopt electronic records are small businesses themselves. While more than half of medical practices employing 50 or more doctors are using EMR systems, less than 10% of practices made up of three physicians or fewer can say the same, according to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2008. These smaller practices are not an easy sell. Bigger EMR players tended to ignore them until recently, figuring the greatest revenue was to be made converting larger hospitals and clinics to their systems. Moreover, they are usually so sensitive to the cost of the product — not to mention the amount of time they will lose seeing patients while they get up-to-speed on the software — that they were effectively priced out of the market.
EMR Systems generally have three price levels. The first level is a boxed systems for small one or two provider offices. These systems are usually older products with a large client base that will provide the practice with the basics. These types of products generally run below $3,000. The second level is a more customized system for Small to Medium sized offices. These products will often require on-site installation and training because they need to be customized for each application. Prices for these products usually run between $5,000 and $35,000. This depends on the number of providers. A small one to two provider offices can expect to pay between $5,000 and $15,000. A larger office of 5-10 providers can expect to pay around $3,000 per additional provider, bringing the total cost to around $25,000 to $35,000.
Forecasting the Future of EMR
Today, Electronic Medical Records are a huge benefit to physicians. Having this computerized system allows the physician to spend less time doing paper work and more time spent on the patient. Even though Electronic Medical Records software is beneficial, it still has a lot of room to grow. Electronic Medical Records has a bright future. In addition to helping the physician, the future of EMR systems can bring e-medicine to the patients. Portability is a main concern for patients who travel to different care providers and need to have their health records easily accessible. Electronic Medical Records hopes to increase the accessibility of patient medical records through the internet and making it available for the patient to update their own health records. This advancement is sure to transform the practice of medicine.
Current EMR’s are closed systems that use Microsoft word, excel, and a static view. Future EMR’s will use graphical representations to give the information a more interactive and visual view. All of these improvements will make way for doctors and patients to interact through computer screens and cameras. Patients will want physicians to monitor electronic diaries about their illnesses or preventive efforts. In effect, doctors will share individual “quality contracts” with their patients.
The future EMR workflow will change from the time consuming process the doctor uses to gather and input all the data to a user friendly system that gathers and inputs data for the doctor. This cuts the doctors and patients wait time by two thirds. Medical experts agree that electronic medical records, when used wisely, can help curb costs for physicians and improve care for the patient. Overall, improving and advancing electronic medical records will cut costs, time, and reduce medical record errors.
Opinions of EMR Over Time
An EMR is one or more computerized clinical information system that collects, stores, and displays patient information. Electronic medical record systems are generally designed to preserve and present patient data longitudinally throughout their many encounters with a healthcare provider system. At its most basic level, an EMR provides a legible, organized method of recording and retrieving clinical information about an individual patient, and essentially replaces the paper medical record that is most familiar to practitioners. By its very nature, an EMR supports data retrieval for quality assessment activities, research, and practice improvement initiatives.
An EMR enables concurrent access to and documentation in the patient’s chart by multiple practitioners. In addition, having an EMR system eliminates the need to transport the physical medical record as the patient moves throughout the healthcare facility. Each year, electronic medical record (EMR) systems are deployed in many physician practices throughout the world, with clear clinical and financial objectives. However, some of these systems are later uninstalled by practices that have found them to be too costly in terms of lost time, productivity and revenue. A problem with EMRs in general (with respect to functionality, usability, and adoption) is that the people who perform the data entry and the people who actually benefit from the data are not the same. This means that the incentives are not aligned properly and when incentives aren’t aligned in anything (including IT) then failure is likely to ensue.
This is only a brief hint at what the past, present, and future of EMR’s look like and what an EMR actually does and can do to benefit millions of people across the world. The convenience of EMR’s is spreading like the plague, and will only continue to do so in the future. While spreading, the conveniences gained from using an EMR will also increase and end up being a huge factor for many places to save time and money. The rapid daily increase of technology will only serve as a catalyst to what the modern day EMR could possibly transform into. EMR’s are the top must-have for the future of the medical fields.
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