Why should doctors still writing prescriptions by hand consider moving to Electronic Health Records?
Many doctors in regions and countries where the penetration of digital capture of patient data lags still use paper and pen to record patient history and medication. It is true that before the advent of easy recording of patient health data in digital form came into vogue, doctors used to save and record patient medical information on paper which used to be filed and stored. This was obviously a tedious and cumbersome process as the records were maintained in paper form. Accessing and retrieving them was never easy. Given privacy considerations these medical records had to be kept in safe physical custody, many times under lock and key. These records were prone to attacks by insects, fire, flood and above all manual destruction, be it accidental or otherwise. Maintaining health records in digital form has truly transformed the healthcare industry. Data can be stored safely and securely and can be retrieved easily by the doctor whenever required. Not all doctors have embraced the use of digital means to record data. In this article we outline several advantages that accrue when doctors capture patient data in electronic health records.
Accurate charting and documentation
Digital recording of data offers physicians with a more convenient, uniform and standardised process of documenting patient interactions. One can easily incorporate checklists, questions, and capture patient responses which makes the entire process error free. Drug-drug and drug-allergy interactions are automatically flagged if suitable tools are incorporated, thus increasing the accuracy of medical charting. Patient demographics, allergy information, past medical history, family and social history, and investigation and radiology reports are easily captured and saved. Poor penmanship is simply eliminated on minimised. Patient safety gets maximised. Misinterpretations and errors are eliminated. Records are easy to read and interpret, thereby improving care delivery. In the past, about 60% of medical errors were caused because my poor handwriting. Reliable prescribing also reduces wrong medication errors.
Better care through easy access and retrieval of patient medical history
Past medical history of the patient is often critical. Medication, food allergies, social and family history and important to know before a doctor starts treatment. Complete medical history is key to treatment. Healthcare professionals can take informed decisions if they have access to medical history of patients. Unnecessary tests can also be avoided. One doctor may also know if any unrelated ailments are being treated by a different specialist. Care coordination becomes easy as every provider has the same accurate and up-to-date medical information about the patient. Doctors can get a comprehensive view of patient health history. Preventive care is easier to implement and track.
Making the best use of data
The doctor has access to the data of patients. There is obviously even more data in the case of hospitals when they use electronic health records. The data can help provide insights to doctors and help in effective decision-making. The EHR provides comprehensive patient data which can lead to accurate and reliable diagnosis of medical conditions and effective treatment strategies. Harnessing such data can help in making optimal point of care decisions. It can also be used for research in public health reporting. A holistic view of health is available in the EHR over the continuum.
Improve overall efficiency
Overall efficiency is positively impacted due to the adoption of electronic health records. Duplicate tests get minimised. All reports are also available in one place which improves efficiency. All reports are available to doctors treating the patient and can be accessed at any time. There is no need to search for paper documents. The process of billing improves and helps improve documentation. Overall consumption of resources reduces. Time and effort required to enter, retrieve, and share information goes down. Providers get the time to focus on patient care rather than managing paper documentation.
Improved audit trails and security helps in keeping patient information safe. EHR’s often have patient portals using which patients can read and print their own health information. Unnecessary calls to obtain information are eliminated as patients can electronically access their own healthcare information. Continued medical care and patient education are other benefits for patients. Patients are actively encouraged to take an active role in managing their own health.
At Genamet we provide doctors with custom websites to represent them and integrate EHR to digitally record patient history and treatment plans, in a safe and secure manner.