From my very first placement on a ward as a student nurse, staff went out of their way to teach us the importance of electronic health records and documentation. As the old mantra goes: “If wasn’t written down, it wasn’t done.” More and more hospitals and care centers are choosing to make the switch to electronic health records. Here are five reasons why this change will benefit the patients as well as the staff.
- Fewer Errors
Medical errors can occur in a number of ways. Files get lost or delayed, handover is incomplete or inaccurate, or the infamously illegible handwriting of doctors leads to a misinterpretation. With electronic health records, these problems are eliminated. Records are backed up and securely accessible at all times. Doctors have a greater foundation for clinical decision making. Templates can be used to ensure consistent reporting and automatic alerts and reminders can be set up to prevent patients missing essential appointments. Quality reports can be generated which inform policies to safeguard greater patient well-being. Records can also be sent directly to the pharmacist, leading to safe and reliable prescribing.
- Better Communication and Coordination
Electronic health records facilitate better coordination of care and improved communication between the various members of the multidisciplinary team. Often, assessment only provides a snapshot of the patient. Electronic health records allow each care provider to access a full and integrated view of the patient’s history and health status across specialties. In this way, patients can be assured of a more holistic assessment and a more accurate diagnosis.
Patients can also expect better follow up and more efficient collaboration between physicians, even in different settings. Electronic health records allow your primary care physician and specialist to see all aspects of your care plan, make timely referrals and consult quickly on pertinent issues related to your health.
- Time Saver
Electronic health records save time for providers and patients alike. Simply by offering a quicker means of documenting care, doctors and nurses now have more time for face to face patient contact. This time can also be used more efficiently because all essential information can now be accessed securely by the click of a button. This removes the need for patients to repeat their medical histories over and over or to be subject to duplicate diagnostic tests. Lab results can also be accessed at the earliest opportunity which can lead to quicker diagnoses.
- Easy Accessibility in an Emergency Situation
In an emergency, you may not be able to give your healthcare providers crucial information such as blood type, allergies or personal wishes. With electronic health records, doctors and nurses can access this information immediately, preventing critical medical errors and saving precious time.
- Enhanced Research and Evidence Based Care
Healthcare should always be based on solid, well researched evidence. Electronic health records can provide researchers and healthcare providers with up to date data on the prevalence of long term and short term illnesses, quality of healthcare provision and the needs of at-risk populations. This can then guide care, policy and provision of resources, leading to better overall patient care.