EMR – The Word on the Street – Part 3

In my previous post (EMR – The Word on the Street – Part 2),  I touched the topic of patient privacy and personal health information (PHI) security. Electronic medical records have changed the industry dynamics through information digitization. While one can debate on whether information technology makes information more vulnerable than before, it has certainly increased its usability. Although it is tough to explain data mining and the usage of big data in a short span of time, I managed to cough up some basic absorbable concepts for my patient group.

Most members of the group were surprised with the data crunching ability of contemporary EMRs. To most patients EMRs are quality control tools with simplistic features that help reduce chances of care discrepancies. Not a lot of people are familiar with an EMR’s data mining and reporting capabilities. Unfortunately that includes a number of physicians as well. EMR offers a cost effective alternative to traditional research methods. Dr. Ross Altman’s team was able to trace a drug to drug reaction that spiked glucose levels using electronic medical records from 3 different medical institutes. Dr. Altman accredited EMRs for enabling their research project, citing “EMRs were really critical in our study because they allowed us to validate our FDA-derived predictions at minimal cost.”

My reference had convinced most of the group members that data mining was in fact one of the main purposes of electronic medical records (learn more). Ironically I have similar sentiments, while I also believe in the coordinated care structure and how it could affect care along with better population health management. One of the most vital roles in coordinated care is the role of patients themselves. Patients have the most control over their own health and in order to truly improve care, it’s important for providers to involve patients in the entire process. Unfortunately, since my patient group was really small, I could not find a participant familiar with patient portals. I had to personally log in to my own web portal to give them a basic overview.

I talked about patient education material, online appointment scheduling, requests for prescription refills and referrals. The group seemed generally enthusiastic about the possibility of interacting with their provider online. Most of them appreciated the access to educational material, with one member explaining how it could help him remember the details shared in the exam room, “I almost forget most of the stuff my doctor tells me, so this is definitely good for me”. The newly released meaningful use requirements encourage patient engagement, and in fact it forms a part of its core objectives as the government looks to derive healthcare towards connectivity.

 

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