Electronic Medical Records Pros and Cons List

Technology is being leveraged in almost all facets of society, and the medical realm is no different. It’s no longer practical to see hospitals and medical facilities using handwritten methods of medical records keeping as computers and digital storage databases are now taking over the industry. But is electronic medical records keeping really all that positive?

List of Pros of Electronic Medical Records

1. Convenience
One of the things that consume a lot of medical professionals’ time is records keeping, especially if the facility makes use of handwritten methods. If a doctor tends to multiple patients in a day, they have to make sure to update the records within just a few hours of seeing the patients to ensure accuracy of information. This could limit the time they have for other patients or important responsibilities that need to be performed. With electronic medical records however, information can be easily logged through a computer system and saved for later retrieval in case of any updates.

2. No Clutter
Hospitals and medical facilities are required to keep the medical records of their patients years after they’ve been updated. This is to ensure that individuals can gain access to the information in the future, should they need further treatment or checkups related to their case. But because hospitals admit hundreds of patients in a day, paper records could multiply greatly in just a short period of time. This leads to a cluttered system that could make it difficult to find records for specific patients. With electronic medical records however, a health care worker can simply retrieve the necessary documents with a simple search , eliminating the need to sift through thousands of paper records.

3. Sharing of Information
When you visit a hospital for any case, there will be a lot of health care professionals attending to you. Commonly, a doctor and a few nurses should be part of the roster, but for other special cases, therapists and other specialists might be necessary. These people all have to share information to come up with a holistic plan for you in order to properly target your needs. But because they each have different roles in your treatment plan, they all have different records. The information that one has might not be the same for the others. That said, electronic medical records make it simple for collaboration among different professionals, allowing workers with different roles to easily share information with one another that can be accessed through any authorized device in the facility.

4. Requesting Records
If you need a copy of your medical records, you might have to wait a few weeks before you can get your hands on it, especially if it’s an inactive record. Hospital workers first have to find your records, verify that it’s yours, and create a copy before they can have it prepared for you. Unlike electronic systems which can retrieve your copy in seconds, which can then be sent to you immediately through email.

List of Cons of Electronic Medical Records

1. Susceptible to Breach of Confidentiality
If electronic medical records are improperly secured, it can be easy for civilians to hack into the system and retrieve records of patients. This increases the chances of breached confidentiality, which can be the focus of legal proceedings should the patient choose to file a case.

2. Loss of Data
In the event that a system fails or gets destroyed, and the medical facility doesn’t have a data backup, all of the data could get lost which could be a major problem for the workers and the patients. Loss of information, especially permanent deletion, is very hard to resolve and could make it impossible for doctors and other health care workers to come up with plans for their existing patients.

3. Easy to Commit Fraud
If an unauthorized person gains access to the system, they could simply and easily commit fraud by faking documents and changing patient information. This could lead to improper treatment plans, and even identity theft. This is where paper records might come in handy, as it is close to impossible to perform identity theft when a facility makes use of paper records to keep patient information.

4. Learning Curve
Before health care workers can properly use electronic medical records keeping software, they must first be taught how it’s used. That said, it might take the hospital a while before they can make use of the system, and for the first few months, records keeping might still need to be done on paper while simultaneously trying to learn the ins and outs of electronic methods. What’s more, because hospitals start off using paper records, they will have to transfer all written information to their database for safe keeping, which could take lots of time and effort.