Benefits of Electronic Health Records (EHRs)
Our lives have been transformed by electronic technology – smart phones, tablets and a multitude of web-enabled devices have impacted our daily lives and the way we communicate. Because of this advancement, a greater and seamless flow of healthcare information is now possible through the development of Electronic Health Records, or EHRs.
EHRs encompass and leverage the digital process and can transform the way care is delivered. Yet, many people are unfamiliar with EHRs and the associated benefits.
David Graham, MD, senior vice president and chief information officer with Memorial Health System notes that the Springfield community has become a leader in the adoption of EHRs. For his patients, Dr. Graham defines EHRs as “simply taking the paper version of your medical chart or record and creating a more complete electronic version.”
To Dr. Graham, the benefits of EHRs for physicians and patients, are enormous. These include:
- Physician access to a complete medical history. A patient’s physician has the ability to see their patient’s entire medical history, including lab and test results or any physician referral letters and can compare it to the current medical status. This allows the physician to treat their patients quickly and effectively.
- Patient access to their complete medical history. Travis Dowell, vice president of Memorial Physician Services, stated that all Memorial Physician Services’ offices and physicians use the EHR system. He also noted a dramatic increase in the use of Memorial Health System’s patient portal since it was first offered in November, 2011.
Dowell states, “Patients can register for our patient portal through any Memorial Physician Services office and can access their complete health record and see the same information and medical history as their healthcare provider. This gives patients the ability to become more involved and engaged in their own healthcare.”
More information about Memorial’s patient portal and EHR is available as an audio podcast at MemorialMD.com.
- Safer healthcare environment. Information is entered directly into the EHR, eliminating potential data interpretation errors. All physicians and healthcare providers have immediate access to the same critical patient information.
- 24/7 access. In a paper-based system, each healthcare provider “owned only small bits of a patient’s information and it was kept in their offices,” stated Dr. Graham. With EHRs, all information is available any time, day or night, and physicians can make medical decisions immediately without the need to wait until an office opens.
- Secured information. Access to every EHR is password protected. The software used to create the EHRs is secured with multiple layers of encryption. “The EHRs are safer and more secure than paper records ever were,” added Dr. Graham.