Health systems are increasingly turning to electronic health records in order to provide easy access to data for those who need it – which includes physicians, patients and specialists. While there has been a lot of talk about electronic medical records (frequently called health records), not many patients are aware of what an electronic medical record is, what are the benefits of having one and what is available to them.
An electronic medical record is a version of your medical chart that can be accessed on your computer or smart phone and may include test results, medical history, discharge instructions and more.
Benefits of an electronic medical record include:
- Patient convenience – Patients can access their medical record anytime, from anywhere. Accessing laboratory and imaging test results, scheduling mammogram appointments, reviewing discharge instructions, and more can be done 24/7, with just the click of a mouse. You can also access your record from your smart phone.
- Improved accuracy – Prior to electronic medical records, most of the information in a patient’s record was handwritten. Handwritten information has a greater chance for misreading or misinterpretation. With an electronic medical record, all information is typed into the computer, reducing the chance of misreading the information or doctor’s order.
- Increased patient participation – Electronic medical records allow patients to participate in their care and keep better track of their medical history. This can lead to a better overall patient care experience and can improve diagnosis and treatment decisions since patients don’t have to rely on writing down important information about their medical history – it will all be stored electronically.
- Better sharing of information – Care becomes easier and safer when records can be shared. Important information such as blood type, prescribed drugs, medical conditions and other aspects of medical history can be accounted for much more quickly.
- Cost savings – Money is saved by using electronic medical records; not just the cost of paper and file folders, but the cost of labor and space, too. The efficiencies created by simply typing a few identifying keystrokes to retrieve a patient’s record – as opposed to staring at thousands of file folders, filing and refilling them – saves thousands of dollars. Efficiencies put into play by doctors, insurance companies and hospitals to save money eventually lead to patients saving money, too.