Electronic Health & Medical Records: A New Patient Experience
The Electronic Health Record (EHR) creates an efficient system that allows the doctor to bring all the information to bear at the time of the visit to make proper judgments. Even though this system changes the processes of the medical practice, it does not take away from the personal attention you will receive or the knowledge your provider must have to adequately treat you.
Technology will not replace doctors. The Electronic Health Record is simply a tool that can be used to improve the healthcare delivered to patients, particularly those with chronic illnesses, over a continuum of care. There are modifications that you can expect with the implementation of an Electronic Health Record.
There are tablets in exam room.
The providers bring their laptop with wireless connectivity into the exam room. Instead of taking down notes in your paper chart, they are able to record your medical status and information directly into the electronic record. Furthermore, all the information they need for your medical evaluation is right there in front of them.
Your doctor knows where you are.
Your whereabouts are displayed in the EHR from the time you check in. You can’t get lost in the waiting room someplace.
E-prescriptions save you time.
Prescriptions are sent directly to your pharmacy. You no longer have to keep track of the piece of paper your provider scribbled on and wait a long time at the pharmacy for your medication. The EHR also allows providers to print legible and complete prescriptions, reducing the likelihood for errors.
Your safety is maintained.
The EHR keeps track of your medications and allergies. The medication and problem lists automatically warn the provider if a prescription has been entered for a drug the patient is allergic to or one that interacts with another drug the patient is taking. If the provider is unsure of a dosage or contraindication, the information can be accessed in a few of mouse clicks.
HIPAA regulations still matter.
There are several layers of security within the Electronic Health Record. Each staff member has a secure user name and password. There is also the ability to complete electronic audits to check who has accessed what part of the medical record. There is also an automatic log-off system after a certain period of time, so no one can access your patient’s files while your computer is unattended. Some patients may be concerned that computer records could be susceptible to "hacking." However, the records do not reside on the general internet. So, hacking from a general internet user is not possible.
Your old records are not lost.
For those records that are brought from offices not utilizing the EMR, those papers will be scanned into the system and become part of your electronic chart. Then, they can be accessed whenever necessary. Most physicians keep old paper records in the office for a period of time after converting to an EHR and then send them out to long-term storage. Quite often, the medical practice will scan the paper records for the last two years, plus medication lists, problems lists and relevant tests or studies.
EHR does NOT change the personal attention you receive. Your doctor can spend more time with you instead of searching around for your personal record. The EHR adds about time to each patient encounter; the same time a provider would otherwise use to spend searching through charts and signing off on them at the end of the day. Moreover, every chart is complete when the patient leaves the room.
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