Going Paperless: Electronic Medical Records Pros and Cons

The rise of the digital era brought innovative tools and improved systems to medical offices and clinics across the country. Organizations are abandoning the abundance of paper accumulating in storage spaces for the simple and accessible method of using electronic health records (EHR). Why are these clinics relying on a digitized system to store and access patient records? Read these electronic medical records pros and cons to see if your medical organization should make the switch to EHR and EMR software.

Files vs Electronic Medical Records

Most healthcare organizations rely on two methods to record and store patient information: file sheets or electronic data bases linked to computers. Even though filing records in computer folders or databases may be more digitally integrated than paper-based filing, it’s a method that’s prone to cause disaster and data loss of patient information. EMR software is a virtual copy of patient records that shows past and present treatments of the patient.
The key to storing patient data and protected health information is to make sure you implement an efficient and secure system to manage records at your office. For some medical practices, electronic medical records are the perfect solution.

Benefits of EMR

Easy file access and the ability to streamline internal operations are just some benefits offered with electronic medical record softwares. Here are some more benefits to consider:

Consolidating records is one of the most valued benefits of EMR. Patient history, diagnostic test results, medical imaging, diagrams and specific patient notes are all things that can be stored and easily accessed with EMR through any computer in your medical practice.

By using EMR, you’re less likely to destroy or lose files because they’re stored on the computer. For added protection and safeguarding, medical practices should have a reliable backup provider in place, in addition to the EMR software. Backup software serves the purpose of protecting all your records against human error, natural disaster, viruses and hardware failure. Even if local servers crash or fail, you can still retrieve the offsite backed up data. A good backup service will be automatic and continuous, meaning your employees can keep working uninterrupted while the software backs up the data.

Any field of medicine can use EMR, not solely hospitals. There are many types of EMR software specific to a medical practice’s needs. EMR can benefit dentists, physical therapists, mental health facilities, small clinics, OB/GYNs, neurologists and any other practice that needs better medical record storage.

EMR makes it virtually impossible to miss any patient information. Data fields must be populated by staff members and the software won’t allow you to progress until the required fields are all completed.

EMR is part of software that’s easy to understand and use. If you or your employees have trouble operating computers and software, there are many EMR softwares that’ll guide you through the process of utilizing the software. Some EMR’s software developers or vendors even provide training and support to help your staff become experts on the software. Then they’ll be able to use it quickly and effortlessly.

The patient’s complete medical information is available both for you and the patient in a moment’s notice. At anytime, you can access a record that is filed and organized digitally. In many cases, all you need is the patient’s name to search for their file.

Everything is stored and accessed on the computer, eliminating clutter and paperwork that slow down productivity. The need for actual paper-based file systems is unnecessary beyond the legal requirement. EMR takes up less space and allows medical practitioners to quickly search for a file, rather than sifting and sorting through physical files. The significant increase in organization also reduces the number of lost or missing patient charts.

Drawbacks of EMR

There are plenty of doctors, physicians and medical professionals that love the idea of EMR, but there are also some that notice drawbacks.

Some practices feel they’ve experienced decreased productivity because the software requires doctors to spend time on documentation.

Software complaints include poor usability, flawed interface design, no access to mobile technology and inadequate training and support. In order to find an excellent EMR software for your medical practice, you should do your research and read reviews before purchasing one.

You need to systematically ensure all computer hardware and software programs are updated and upgraded. This will prevent glitches or loss in data transfers.

Security and safety of the data is a priority. You need to have password-protected computer systems connected to a secure server. If you don’t follow privacy protocols meticulously, you’re putting your organization at risk

It will take time to train employees and staff members on how to use EMR software.

Final Thoughts on EMR

EMR benefits patients by providing improved diagnosis and treatment, considerably fewer errors in their personal health records as well as faster care and response from medical professionals. It’s obvious that the benefits of EMR far outweigh the drawbacks, especially if you do your research and select an EMR software that meets your organization’s needs. Proper training and support for your staff is also an important component to whether EMR will help or hurt productivity.

Going Paperless: Electronic Medical Records Pros and Cons

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