When you think of revolutionary medical technology, your first thoughts probably turn to robots that can perform surgery or whole-hand transplants. But there’s another kind of technology that, although perhaps more mundane, is changing the healthcare industry for doctors, patients and researchers alike: information technology. Health IT advances such as web based electronic medical records (also called electronic health records) manage to provide numerous benefits, and will likely continue to grow in effectiveness as more and more health practitioners update their systems. Not convinced yet? Here’s an overview of what web EMRs can do.
- For Doctors:
EMR software helps healthcare providers to be much more efficient in the administrative aspects of running a practice. Not only are labor costs reduced when paper records are eliminated, but doctors and their associates are able to pull up the information they need more quickly and share it with a patient’s other providers. EMR practice management software can even integrate numerous functions — such as scheduling and billing — right in with a patient’s records. And, of course, better workflow efficiency should give practitioners more time to actually spend treating their patients.
- For Patients:
Web EMRs in particular are great for patients because they usually offer 24/7 access through a secure portal. That means patients no longer have to either try to remember what happens during every single appointment (what were those blood pressure figures again?) or constantly be calling the doctor’s office with every question. Having this information enables patients to take charge of their own health in many ways, monitoring progress over time and ensuring they like the trends they’re seeing.
- For Researchers:
There are research and public policy implications for EMR implementation, too. The collection of mass medical information in electronic form is allowing for a “big data” research approach — an angle that has already uncovered numerous previously unknown trends in everything from weight management to stroke risks. Having this type of information allows for better public policy decisions when it comes to health, too. So even this aspect of EMRs underscores their potential to result in better patient care and better overall health.
Do you already use web based electronic medical records in your practice, or are you just doing some advance research? Share your insight in the comments.