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Why Is an Electronic Medical Record Important?


President Obama believes electronic medical records, EMR, will have a direct impact on the future quality of patient care, reducing cost and is the future of health care. He has committed a certain budget towards transitioning the health-care record keeping system from paper to electronic medical records. At this present time, there is no direct mandate for health care providers to convert paper records to electronic form; however, the federal government has required providers to become “meaningful” users if they want to receive financial incentives under the Medicare and Medicaid programs and avoid penalties under those programs later. The incentives and penalties are established in the HITECH Act.

In stage 1 of meaningful use, there are 25 proposed measures for physicians to meet, such as using EMR/EHR technology when submitting a certain percentage of their clinical orders, as well as, transmitting permissible prescriptions electronically. The next phase of this evolution or stage 2 of meaningful use is Interoperability in Healthcare. Stand alone EMRs will further strengthen the information silos that exist in today’s paper based medical files. Interoperability must be built into EMRs now, which will allow exchanging data across hospital systems, and creating a patient centric community care record.

To avoid financial penalties, which will increase in subsequent years, providers must become meaningful users by 2015.

In addition to the financial incentives, implementation of EMR/EHR technology is a way to improve clinical workflows, data analysis, and overall patient care. It allows physicians access to patient’s complete medical records, medication lists, problems, and clinical notes from past visits regardless of their location, just as long as there is internet access. Physicians can review lab results, X-rays, MRI and other scans, and offers warnings regarding inappropriate prescriptions or abnormal lab results. X-rays are in real-time with their patients. All data is immediately accessible allowing more time for patient care. Since information is entered on the computer, writing legibility is not a problem, resulting in fewer patient care errors.

In Summary, implementing an electronic medical record is not only a financial incentive for healthcare practitioners, it also improves patient care. Resulting in fewer penalties and meeting the federal government requirements.

Guest Writer: JP Riene

Sponsored by: RISC Management and Consulting