When one thinks of healthcare organizations, large stacks of paper always spring to mind. Occasionally one wonders how these organizations manage these piles of paper running through their various departments. Over time, the healthcare and information technology sectors have worked hard to find ways that will simplify health information management, increase productivity and reduce overheads through the use of technology.
Electronic medical records (EMR) systems have had a significant impact on the healthcare sector by making clinical documentation more efficient. Through continuous awareness, development and government support, EMRs have brought physicians into the future. Gone are the days when doctors manually input information such as patient demographics, lab reports, process billing and document the associated workflow. EMRs have not only simplified physician workflows but also streamlined the workflows of the administrative staff.
More importantly, information stored on an EMR is safe and un-aging. It allows physicians to document patient encounters with a holistic view of the patient’s history and current medications, ensuring the highest quality of clinical care. The simple longitudinal summary of patient’s past complaints, diagnosis, medications and history restricts the possibility of oversight. The built-in clinical knowledge base provides pertinent information regarding particular diseases whilst an interaction check runs in the background to identify potential interactions against drugs and allergies, as the provider documents a clinical encounter.
Given the rise in patient volumes and limitation of physician time, EMR vendors now seek to develop and incorporate features within a single platform. Established EMR vendors have developed their EMR solution with a built-in Practice Management component. This streamlines the front and back office operations within a practice, whilst role-based security ensures that users can only access the areas relevant to their role.
With the evolution of the EHR industry, vendors will continue to improve and incorporate innovative features within their solutions. However, development in technology will only aim to assist clinicians with built-in alerts and interaction checks to ensure that the possibility of human oversight or error is reduced greatly rather than aiming to replace the physician with a set of tools working upon a human body.