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Tuesday, 18 February 2014 09:57

Digitizing Patients Records: EMR Featured

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Digitizing Patients Records: EMR


Introduction

The process of digitizing patient’s records is slowly becoming a reality in health care facilities. Health care practitioners are adopting the digitized system of recording patient’s information.  However, the successful implementation of patient records can be achieved if the facility has embraced diversity. It is through diversity that employees familiar with EMR technologies will teach those that are unfamiliar with the field. It is also with diversity that employees will have the desire to embrace changes that are meant to boost operations within the health care facility. The management should be ready to integrate changes that are bound to bring positive results to the facility. This paper shall take a critical analysis at the benefits of diversity in relation to the adoption of EMR as a system design in health care facility.


Observation

Steve Lohr of the New York Times writes a comprehensive article on why tech companies are pushing for the digitization of patient records across the country. The increased emphasis on records digitization has seen numerous technology companies strive to make the digitization process easy for large, medium and small healthcare facilities. Technology giants such as general Electric, IBM and Verizon are making preparation to ensure that the technologies needed by health care facilities are readily available (Lohr, 2009).


Electronic health care records, if properly set up and deployed can assists in improving patients care and minimizing costs and expenses that healthcare facilities face. According to Lohr, (2009) electronic health records enable a health care facility to hold large volumes of patient information. Details such as a patient’s health history, medications, lab tests and treatment guidelines can all be record and stored in the electronic medical record. Unlike the manual form of record keeping, EMR allows a patient record to be stored and retrieved with ease.


The availability of patient’s history and previous medical records also minimizes the need for unnecessary tests. Prior medical reports about a patient can be used as the basis for determining the next course of action with regard to patient care. EMR technology also minimizes medical errors that are common with the manual system of filling patient’s records. In the manual system, the probability of mixing up medical records of different patients is high. This is especially so if a patient has voluminous records of data (Lohr, 2009).


EMR technology also improves the chances of the patient receiving optimal care. With an elaborate medical history, a physician is capable of making proper prognosis and care to a patient. The article also analyzes the skepticism in adopting the EMR technology in small health care facilities and clinics. These clinics perceive the EMR technology as costly and complex hence complicate operations at the facility rather than make work easier. However, over and above the technical and financial concerns, every health care facility strives to adopt delivery strategies that reduce expenses and other technical issues in the organization. Health care facilities concerned about costs and complex nature can be assured that technologies such as wireless connections and affordable hardware promise clinics a less cumbersome shift to digital patient record (Lohr, 2009).


Connection

The shift to digital patient records will eventually become a mandatory prerequisite for healthcare facilities that desire to excel. The main hurdle when integrating digital technologies in an environment that is used to manual operations is expertise. A health care facility may desire to adopt a technology such as EMR, but may lack the technological expertise.


Employees may be unsure of their competence hence object to the implementation of patient records digitization process. However, the problem of utilizing a patient record can be resolved by embracing diversity. Diversification for purposes of problem solving with regard to adoption of electronic patient records involves hiring employees with different expertise, intellect and perspectives. A health care facility accustomed to the manual system, of record keeping may be adamant to change. The management of such a health care facility can focus on hiring individuals who have experience of academic knowledge of using such a system. This new employee will expose employees to the system hence provide prerequisite on-the job training (Page, 2008). The ability of a health care facility to have employees with such knowledge will also ensure that operations within the facility remain unaffected with the shift to digital patient records.


A health care facility with a team that is open and receptive to change will also have an easy time shifting to EMR technology. Cognitive diversity refers to the differences in perspective and methods of approaching problems. A healthcare facility that has a team of physicians, nurses and support staff that believes that a change to EMR technology will serve the good of the facility will shift with ease compared to a health facility with a team that is not receptive to change. A receptive team will have employees with diverse perspective in resolving the problem of implementation and use. Such a team will have more than one way to resolve the problem it will face with the implementation of the technology. This is because when one approach fails, another one will be adopted with ease.


Speculation

 The implementation of EMR technology in health care facilities represents a viable solution to the myriad of problems that health care facilities face during a health care delivery. As it is often said “man is to err”; unfortunately, the occurrence of errors in the health care industry can be fatal. A medical error can, for instance, result to the death of a patient. The presence of electronic medical records significantly reduces the frequency of errors during patients care.


Errors such as medications errors can become frequent especially when nurse misreads the medication amount written by the doctor. A nurse also risks mixing up the names of the patients and giving patients with similar names different medications (Page, 2008). EMR will reduce these human errors as each patient will have his or her personal details fed into a certified system. Information such as the patients, illness and medication will be entered correctly into the system. A nurse who desires to provide a patient with a prescribed medication can simply access his records in the EMR system.


EMR technologies also ascertain the safety and security of patient’s medical records. Circumstances related to loss or misplacement of medical files will be non-existent. The risk of damage to medical files will also be non-existent as health care facilities will store patient records and also keep back up for all patient records. The EMR system will also minimize the problem of duplication of documents, which can be costly for any organizations. EMR system ensures that patient’s records are centralized at one point. Physicians or nurses who may require the information can access it on the EMR system with ease (Page, 2008). The EMR system allows for more than one health care practitioner to access patients health care at one time.


The transfer of patient’s records as in the case of patients transfer will also be enhanced with EMR system. The manual system of physically moving a patient’s record from one health care facility to another is not efficient. The risk of mix up of loss of patient’s records is high. The EMR system provides a lasting solution where transfer of patient’s records is prompt and secure.


The manual system of record keeping may be considered simple, but the risks are higher than the electronic system.  The lack of an EMR system in a health care facility means that the facility is using the manual system. The main problem that such as health care facility would face is excess paperwork. Physicians and nurses must write a detailed description of their patients, at the end of each patient visit. In the end, the health care facility spends a lot of time with paper work. The task of storing and retrieval medical records can also become time consuming especially if the facility is busy.


The risk of medical errors is also high as healthcare providers use hand written medical records to make prognosis and undertake various medical actions. An individual’s handwriting may be difficult to read hence the risk of errors due to illegible writing can arise. EMR systems allow for typing of patients records hence spelling errors are minimal. Handwritten medical records have been found to be the reason of increased medical errors during medication procedures (Page, 2008). The problem of medical and medication errors, due to ineffective patient record system can be resolved through the adoption of the electronic medical records. Organizations are seeking alternative means to save on time and costs of operations, and the EMR is ideal in effective patient care. A health care facility that has embraced diversity must work towards integrating EMR systems into its operations. The employees must realize and accept that embracing EMR would be an ideal way to save on time and minimize the occurrence of medical errors that can be costly for the health care facility.


Conclusion

The electronic medical records system is changing the mode of operations in the health care facility.  The article indicates that tech companies have been pushing for health care facilities to digitize their records. EMR has enabled healthcare facilities to merge its functions in one centralized system. A healthcare facility have diverse department with different medical records. An elaborate EMR system allows for the unification of the documentation practices into a unified system. Employees need to embrace the change that is manifested through the adoption of EMR system. A diverse pool of employees means that the willingness to change to an improved system will be done with ease. A team that is willing to adapt to positive change will readily embrace EMR as an alternative technology that will enhance service provisions. EMR has been found to be effective in safeguarding patient records, unifying functions and ensuring that medical records are safe.


Reference

Lohr, S. (2009). Tech companies push to digitize patient’s records. New York Times. September 10 2009

Page, S. (2008). The Difference: How the Power of Diversity Creates Better Groups, Firms, Schools, and societies. Princeton university press


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