Electronic Medical Records – EMR Integration For Improved Patient Care

Electronic Medical Records (EMR) are collections of patient medical information in digital format. In the past, electronic medical records were mainly used for billing, scheduling, and payment. However, with the introduction of advanced imaging systems, electronic medical records are rapidly becoming primary diagnostic tools for health care. These records are used to monitor and track all aspects of a patient’s health care from diagnosis to treatment. Thus, electronic medical records management is a growing industry. To meet this new need, several companies have developed different EMR integration products and services.

Epic EMR Integration

Epic EMR Integration is a product that allows electronic medical records to be shared between various disciplines, including hospitals, physicians, private clinics, insurance companies, and government agencies. The estimated net benefit over a 5-yr period from using an electronic medical record for a 5-yr period was $ Asus, Inc. Compared to the expenses associated with maintaining manual patient medical records, the benefits are clear. 

Quality improvement and cost reduction for the organization

Benefits accrue from improved management of costs, reduced billing errors, and improved utilization of radiologic tests. The company further claims that by integrating all the major components, EMR integration brings quality improvement and cost reduction for the organization. For example, using Epic EMR Integration increases the chance that a test result will be accurate because the software uses algorithms developed by the quality improvement team to make certain that test results reflect the real world. By coordinating across the various disciplines within the organization, the software also enables quick identification of problems, improves collaboration among different health care teams, and enables real-time notifications of critical events.

Another benefit is the physicians’ use of electronic medical records and the resulting reduction in the number of patient visits. Dr. William McKnight, editor-in-chief of the prestigious peer-reviewed journal Health Affirming, believes, “EMR integration can reduce health care costs by as much as 20 percent and cut annual patient visits by about half.” Furthermore, he notes that this technology “is likely to become more common in the future,” and, “It’s not too late to put it to good use.”

Electronic Medical Records

Electronic Medical Records also have the potential to improve primary care practice. According to the American College of Medical Assistants (ACM), primary care physicians spend an average of one hour a week supervising their practices’ EMRs. ACM further states that the majority of primary care physicians are not fully aware of all the benefits of electronic medical records. Studies have indicated that doctors often misdiagnose patients, underestimate patients’ risks for complications, fail to measure various patient outcomes, make unwarranted user inputs, or both. Also, because most EMR systems are supported by sophisticated software applications, primary care physicians are better able to provide coordinated care for patients.

Doctors in hospitals, nursing homes, home health agencies, hospices, and other healthcare facilities have also seen a substantial benefit in using EMR software. According to the American Medical Information Association (AMA) study “More doctors now use EMR systems, but fewer can give patients the information they need.” The number of doctors who have at least one computer to install the electronic data file system has fallen from a peak of 75 percent in 2005 to a little more than half of one percent today.

The number of doctors who have been trained to work with electronic medical records has also dropped. As medical information technology progresses, the tasks physicians were once required to perform have been automated. Consequently, these professionals now spend more time evaluating patient-centered design methods, evaluating technical aspects such as reliability, performance, and security, and making appropriate modifications to their EMRs as patient-centered design and technical features continue to advance.

You can achieve improvement in electronic medical records if all parties involved – physicians, medical staff, administrators, and patients – work together to find ways to co-exist peacefully within the EMR landscape. First, all parties must agree on using the electronic health records, what portions of the records should be shared, how the records will be stored, who has access to them, and what safeguards will be put in place to protect patient safety. Then, those involved must agree on how to upgrade or maintain the system. Lastly, ongoing maintenance should be done to protect the electronic health records against theft, loss, and corruption. This process can be daunting, but it is essential to the efficient management of sensitive personal health information.