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Technology advances in medicine are boundless and the effect they produce on the industry and humanity, in general, is as well impressive. The arising of electronic records and emerging of Big Data in healthcare have pushed engineers to elaborate medical software solutions for better diagnosing and treatment. Medical systems of first-world countries flourish with innovations, though there are some nuances and challenges in digitalizing the sphere globally. The article describes the benefits of electronic health records as well as the advantages and disadvantages of EHR from the perspective of development and establishment.

The way the EHR (electronic health record) differs from EMR (electronic medical record) systems

Although these two definitions are often used interchangeably, there is a narrow difference between them. EMR software is used for tracking patients’ medical information within one practice and by one specialist. It offers better tools to make the right diagnosis, prescribe necessary treatment, and monitor patients’ states. In EMR systems health information is kept locally and can not be shared across other organizations freely. The EHR system includes more comprehensive and detailed data on patients’ laboratory analyses and personal specific factors. EHR solutions are designed to be shared across departments and among specialists to assist in providing high-quality medical services on all levels.

Both EMR and EHR are aimed at improving patient management and providing better services with fast access to digitalized medical history. In addition, such systems serve as tools for better personnel and patient management, monitoring the recovery period, bills and prescription management, and a lot more on the list. Everything depends on the needs and requirements set by hospitals, private medical institutions, governments, and people’s feedback. Let’s dive into the pros and cons of electronic health records.

Types of EHR Systems

There are two types of EHR systems present in the software development market. These are

Physician-hosted systems

This type of EHR belongs to an organization. Its data is stored on the servers belonging to the facility. So, the type requires a healthcare institution to buy both software and hardware. Especially, servers. Also, there should be one member of the staff, who will take over the responsibility of EHR maintenance and troubleshooting.

Who might need such an EHR type? Big organizations mostly. Why? Because only they will be able to invest large costs into the equipment. Besides, large healthcare institutions will be able to provide the best security possible, are performative, and can work without a stable internet connection. These are the most common type-driven benefits of EHR. 

Remotely-hosted systems

Such types of EHR systems belong to the ones, the storage of which is kept somewhere remotely. So, the information of the patients is on the servers of another entity. And, a third party is responsible for EHR maintenance, security, and ongoing support.

Small clinics and physician offices tend to have remotely-hosted EHRs. Mainly, because they don’t have to buy the equipment and held a server within its walls. So, doctors never worry about storage. They prefer to take care of their patients. But, these systems also have their subdivision. I.e.

  • Subsidized. Adopted by small practices. But who owns the data? There’s an issue to figure out. The cost of the EHR for a physician is subsidized and he can’t control the server data.
  • Dedicated. There is a specific location of a vendor, where the physician stores EHR data. So, the doctor knows where the data goes and where it is being held. But, he/she still has no control over its storage. Might be among the cons of EHR.
  • Cloud. There’s a vendor, who has cloud storage, and healthcare providers store this data within the vendor’s cloud. For physicians, it is super convenient to access the necessary medical data via online storage. So, this option is widely and greatly popular these days. Some more advantages of implementing electronic medical records include its cheap development. And, who wouldn’t want to achieve such a benefit as a cheap and effective software?!

Let’s now proceed to the EHR advantages and disadvantages. What might be the pros and cons of electronic medical records?

Find out why you need EMR integration for healthcare!

Disadvantages and risks of EMR and EHR systems

Among the disadvantages of electronic health records one can find:

Scalability. EHR should necessarily handle an increasing number of requests. News says EHR systems that are also designed for testing for Covid-19 can break down because of a great number of people testing and because EHRs are location-based. Even when medical personnel knows how an EHR responds when 100 patients are tested per day for COVID-19, no one is sure how it will respond when 1,000 or 2,000, or 10,000 are going to be tested.

Security. Protection of personal information and HIPAA compliance are milestones for the legality and security of EMR and EHR. Access permissions to data are thoroughly controlled and protected. Unfortunately, cybercrimes across industries are often and medical records can become a target for hackers to steal, alter data or expose information to the public. Adjusting EMR to HIPAA regulations goes without saying and guarantees:

  • Use of authentication credentials to log in to the system
  • Recording the history of changes in data
  • Certification
  • Data encryption

Interoperability. Connection with other systems to share data can be challenging in the case of EHR. To make the sent message universal and interpreted by other systems it has to contain standardized coded data. Cases of designing EHR systems that smoothly interconnect with other systems exist, but still, they are rare and time-consuming in terms of implementation. For instance, Estonia has centralized EMR systems for the whole country that allow connecting to Finland pharmacies and receiving prescriptions from Finland. The connection with other European countries is a matter of time, government negotiations, and a high-class development process.

Transition to EMR of 100% of the population. Here we have a challenge of cultural interoperability. Trusting digital advances can become difficult for some people, especially for the aging population. The resistance of patients or doctors to digital tools can also happen because of problems with documentation, the Internet connection, motivation, etc. It’s a step-by-step process in which the whole country should be engaged: specialists taught in a new way and people informed through channels of communication and successful media campaigns.

Challenging software development. 58% of the dissatisfaction of interviewed people lies in a lack of functionality and features. 30% goes to the “hard to use” factor. Besides, such systems need integration of AI and NLP which are becoming critical in accurate diagnosing of the mental and physical health of patients. In summarizing, EMR software should:

  • Stand out with great functionality and include a variety of features to entirely meet the requirements of administration personnel and doctors of hospitals, private practices, as well as patients
  • Be relevant to the size of an organization
  • Ensure necessary customer support
  • Be easy-to-use and responsive
  • Ensure a long time of keeping e-records in the cloud
  • Ensure security and privacy of personal information

Most used and most desired features in EMR – according to research

Electronic Medical Records Pros and Cons - Inoxoft

Existing software solutions for Healthcare also include such features as:

  • E-prescribing
  • Scheduling
  • Drug management (procurement, storage, and use)
  • Vaccination management

Advantages of Electronic medical records

Time and convenience

How was it many years ago when there were no EHR systems? There was a lot of paperwork and medical data was not easily accessible at the time. And we faced all the pros and cons of paper medical records. It had to be written, rewritten, and copied. Only door-to-door visits to hospitals allowed to schedule an appointment to receive results, prescriptions, etc. Nowadays people who are more aware of their health state due to the use of EMR systems pay much more attention to their well-being and get better support from the side of specialists. Doctors base their decision on finely structured and preserved patient information in one place and access it whenever they need it. Time-consuming queues and delays in finding a necessary treatment have been reduced due to digital tools at hands of people.

  • The volume of paper records can be very large. Storing, preserving, filtering, and searching for information in EMR and EHR is easier.
  • Doctors and patients can access data anytime from different places and automate processes of consultations

Legibility and transparency of online records

EMR and EHR systems eliminate misunderstandings in doctors’ prescriptions. E-documents on each patient are to be filled properly and once data is indicated, it can be easily generated for the number of related documents. Electronic health records can be edited and signed up with e-signatures which is a well-known practice, that ensure security and safety in prescribing medicines and compiling official documents.

The indispensable need for EHR for surgical operations and 3D printing

EHR can function as a part of complex software solutions that help doctors conduct different surgical operations, like in the case of a web application for printing customized 3D models for surgery supply for Israel. The web application allows designing 3D models and sharing data among specialists across the world. The Israel medical organization can now easily keep track of electronic medical records, structure documentation, and coordinate the work of surgeons quickly and effectively.

Personalized medicine

Invaluable personalization in diagnosing diseases and providing medical services — that’s what we all strive for. McKinsey’s research A Vision for Medical Affairs 2025, says that decisions on the treatment of patients will be based on cutting-edge data analytics that responsively will upgrade patients’ trust. Patient engagement will be enhanced by implementing EMR systems and AI. Digital tools will allow us to measure progress in patients’ health and efficient use of innovation in curing diseases. Regular collecting data and the application of big data analytics will drive useful insights to leverage medical solutions and personalized approaches to each patient and engage them in understanding their diagnoses as well.

Software tools will maximize the result of treatment, minimizing the patient-doctor interaction. A smart digital system will provide real-time data on when, and how to take the cure, learn patients’ behavior, their met and unmet needs, and feedback.

Opportunity to use and provide services remotely

Great practical use and advantages of using electronic health records and EHR systems lie in the remote connection. Telecommuting helps achieve clarity and empowers medicine with an online regime — objectives that are already being implemented step-by-step in many countries. The current situation with quarantine in Europe showcases how countries that managed to support and implement digital innovations in their Healthcare systems by 2020, benefit from remote consultancies. That’s a huge advantage to add to EMR systems. In emergencies and isolation providing necessary medical consultations and supporting people remotely is a prime necessity.

Promising future of EMR by 2030

What is there ahead for the EMR software development? The emergence of AI in EMR platforms will help understand clients better as a patient before they turn to specialized medical help. According to research, 50% to 60%, of patients with chronic illnesses fail through taking necessary doses. However, the AI systems will keep comprehensive data on patients’ states that will aid in providing more accurate care. Natural-Language-Processing by 2030 will structure data immediately during patient-doctor communication and embed the data schema into EMR systems. AI models and predictive analytics will reduce the risks of misuse of drugs by patients. Great benefits of EMR in healthcare indeed.

All in all, the benefits of EMR systems stimulate progress in monitoring patient information, diagnostics, and secure medical services. Together with EHR systems, they transform the Healthcare Industry and positively influence population health due to data-driven and personalized treatment. Their right implementation within successful medical reforms has all chances to form a better vision of governments and companies on what medical software should be. 

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is EHR software?

The EHR system includes comprehensive and detailed data on patients’ laboratory analyses and personal specific factors. EHR solutions are designed to be shared across departments and among specialists to assist in providing high-quality medical services on all levels.

What is EMR software?

EMR software is used for tracking patients' medical information within one practice and by one specialist. It offers better tools to make the right diagnosis, prescribe necessary treatment, and monitor patients' states. In EMR systems health information is kept locally and can not be shared across other organizations freely.

What is the future of EMR and EHR?

EMR systems stimulate progress in monitoring patient information, diagnostics, and secure medical services. EHR systems transform the Healthcare Industry and positively influence population health due to data-driven and personalized treatment. So, they are here to stay and advance.