Electronic Medical Records – A Curse in Disguise?
It isn’t news to anyone that technology is seeping into every facet of our day-to-day lives, including healthcare. While you may have noticed large, expensive looking machines and new posters touting state-of-the-art technologies, there are also a few, slightly more subtle changes occurring as well. The switch to electronic medical records has been a gradual one – in fact, some hospitals and doctors still have yet to make it.
At first glance, it may seem like keeping medical records in electronic form would benefit everyone; doctors and patients alike could easily transfer and view complete records with the press of a button. Coding could be completely computerized and easy and a patient could conjure their entire record with a single request. In theory, this sounds almost ideal – electronic medical records could save a substantial amount of time for people involved at every level of your healthcare process. Doctors and specialists could easily transfer patient records across departments, expediting the process of seeing multiple doctors and the process of billing as well. However, like any technological advancement, this is not without its drawbacks and many institutions are reluctant to take part in this endeavor.
Assuming that a hospital has a system set up for electronic medical records (which is a feat itself), doctors, nurses, and coders must learn to use this system, which can oftentimes be a lengthy task. Introducing a new system also introduces a greater chance for error as workers struggle to learn in a speedy manner – wrong medications or doses, mismatched files, and lost patient data are all possible, and real mistakes. In addition, the possibility of security breaches, system crashes or blackouts, and faulty data looms overhead.
As the industries of science and healthcare become tangled tightly, the next logical step may seem to be the implementation of electronic medical records. Everything else seems to be done electronically, so why not this? It may come down to a simple fact – although technology aims to make our lives easier, we must still take the time to understand and learn new technologies and we, as humans, will still make errors. Perhaps hospitals with working, organized medical record systems needn’t toss this aside in favor of something new and shiny just because everyone else is doing it. If a system works, the healthcare workers are familiar with it and work well with it, there may be no real need to jump on this bandwagon – at least for now.