Electronic Health Record: Benefits and Challenges

EHR Expectations

According to a survey, slightly more than half of the public (55 percent) think that an EHR system can reduce the number of medical mistakes (Chapter 4, n.d.). The same survey shows that 60 percent of respondents think than an EHR system can make healthcare services less expensive, and 54 percent claim that they would rather choose a personal physician who employs an EHR system than one who does not. The researchers go on to argue that EHR systems facilitate successful performance, increase customer satisfaction, and decrease costs. These data reflect public expectations from EHR systems, and it can be stated that those systems are viewed by the majority as positive.

In this regard, I stand with the majority: I believe in the benefits of EHR systems described above. First of all, an EHR system is a much more organized way of keeping records than paper-based systems, which is why the risk that the data will be confused or lost is decreased. Second, I think an important aspect of EHR systems is the issue of safety, which I think should be one of the main considerations in adopting certain systems of patient records. Upon their research, Sittig and Singh (2012) propose goals and objectives for developing safer EHR-enabled healthcare systems. However, the authors acknowledge from the very beginning that EHR is a safer approach to patient recording than employing paper-based systems. What is meant by safety in this context is that patients’ data are less likely to be accessed by unauthorized persons, misused, or abused? It is also suggested in the research that EHR systems help protect patients and facilitate reporting to patient-safety organizations.

Finally, I recognize one more benefit of EHR systems that makes them principally different from paper-based systems: electronic records can be stored in databases that can be accessed across facilities. It means that, if a patient travels to another town and seeks medical care there, his or her previous health records can be easily retrieved and considered by the medical staff. In case the patient had not used EHR systems, such retrieval would be problematic. It should be acknowledged that this benefit is not only for those who travel a lot but virtually for everyone.

Any patient may face the need to go to several different healthcare facilities, and the coordination between them may become a crucial factor in providing thorough and comprehensive care. Goetz, Kuzel, Feng, DeShazo, and Love (2012) conducted a qualitative study among practitioners to explore the benefits of employing EHR systems. Their results showed that medical staff found EHR systems more convenient in terms of storing and accessing patient information and more suitable for organizing office operations. But the key benefit recognized by the respondents was that EHR systems make a positive contribution to the coordination of care. However, disadvantages were described, too. They included costs of adoption and maintenance, insufficiency of knowledge about the way EHR systems work, and the necessity to transform traditional office operations.

I use an EHR system because I believe that, in the modern world, we should use the benefits of technological progress to improve various aspects of our lives, including healthcare. I would prefer seeing a physician who has an EHR system rather than one who does not. I believe that EHR systems improve the coordination of care and the safety of data. I am not sure if they save money to a significant extent, and there is still a debate on it among researchers, but the other benefits seem evident to me.

References

Chapter 4: Electronic health records. (n.d.). Web.

Goetz, G. D., Kuzel, A. J., Feng, L. B., DeShazo, J. P., & Love, L. E. (2012). EHRs in primary care practices: Benefits, challenges, and successful strategies. The American Journal of Managed Care, 18(2), 48-54.

Sittig, D. F., & Singh, H. (2012). Electronic health records and national patient-safety goals. New England Journal of Medicine, 367(19), 1854-1860.