Electronic medical records pros and cons

Pub: May 08, 2020Upd: May 22, 2020
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Content writer at Inoxoft

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 EMR and EHR systems as well as their disadvantages from the perspective of development and establishment.

The way the EHR (electronic health record) differ 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, monitor patients’ state. 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 needs and requirements set by hospitals, private medical institutions, governments and people’s feedback. Let’s dive into pros and cons of electronic medical records.

Disadvantages and risks of EMR and EHR systems

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 know how an EHR responds when 100 patients are tested per day for COVID-19, but 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 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 receive prescriptions from Finland. The connection with other European countries is a matter of time, government negotiations and 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 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 that are becoming critical in accurate diagnosing of the mental and physical health of patients. 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

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. It had to be written, rewritten and copied. Only door-to-door visits to hospitals allowed to schedule an appointment, receive results, prescriptions, etc. Nowadays people who are more aware of their health state due 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 necessary treatment have reduced due to digital tools at hands of people.

  • The volume of paper records can be very large. Storing, preserving, filtering, searching for information in EMR and EHR is easier.
  • Doctors and patients have the possibility to 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 research A Vision for Medical Affairs 2025, says that decisions on treatment patients will be based on cutting-edge data analytics that responsively will upgrade patients’ trust. Patient engagement will be enhanced via implementing EMR systems and AI. Digital tools will allow us to measure progress on 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, personalize 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, how to take the cure, learn patients’ behaviour, their met and unmet needs and feedback.

Opportunity to use and provide services remotely

Great practical use and advantage of EMR and EHR systems lie in the remote connection. Telecommuting helps achieve clarity and empower medicine with online regime — objectives that are already being implemented step-by-step in many countries. The current situation with quarantine in Europe showcases how countries which 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 emergency situations and isolation  providing necessary medical consultations and support people remotely is a prime necessity.

Promising future of EMR by 2030

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 fall 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 patients-doctors communication and embed the data schema into EMR systems. AI models and predictive analytics will reduce the risks of misuse of drugs by patients. 

All in all, the benefits of EMR 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 have all chances to form a better vision of governments and companies on what medical software should be. 

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Written by
Content writer, Foreign Languages Department Graduate. The former member of NGO with experience in social work, promoting leadership and changes in the youth community. You can find Yaryna on Facebook, Twitter or on Linkedin, .
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