Why are electronic medical records so important? And why is patient access to them critical in many instances? These are important questions to ask more so because many health facilities have found it pretty expensive, time consuming and cumbersome to scan mounds of paper records to electronic computer files.
Actually the advantages of electronic medical records over paper records on file are overwhelming. The fact that they can then be accessed from virtually anywhere where there is a computer translates into efficiency and more safety for patients.
The old way of doing things meant that every time you went to see a doctor it would mean being bombarded with questions. The newer the doctor the more the questions and time taken. Little wonder that healthcare costs have continued on a consistent steep rise for many years. Not to mention the situations where getting information out of a patient may not be practical due to their condition.
And then family doctors who may be very knowledgeable on your medical history and background inevitably retire, move on or even die. Taking with them vital information that a new doctor may require tomorrow to give a much faster accurate diagnosis. The amazing thing that electronic records have done is that they make every new doctor treating you on par with your old family doctor who may have known you and your family for years.
Electronic medical records can easily be shared and quick access to vital information like your blood type, allergies, prescribed drugs and other aspects your medical history can be easily be accessed with a few clicks of a mouse on some doctors’ computer.
Even if you are seeing a doctor on a non-emergency case, it is common to forget something or just omit it altogether just because it may appear irrelevant to the situation causing you to fill out your medical history. Thus denying your new doctor a vital piece of your medical puzzle that would have otherwise been of immense help in a diagnosis.
Contrast endless questions to a situation where a new doctor just needs to ask you your name and birth date and perhaps some other piece of identifying information and instantly have all the information they need to dispense quality treatment.
Electronic medical records saves money and it is not just the cost of the paper, files and space to store them. Think of the time wasted trying to locate paper records and papers as well as documents being misplaced as will inevitably happen. And do remember that when health institutions and all those who would need access to your medial records save time and money, these savings will in the end be passed on to you in lower bills.
But most of all having access to your personal health records empowers you as a patient in many ways especially in this information age when you can do your own research on various aspects of your health.
Some people worry about the security of electronic medical records and the privacy issues that always seem to crop up. A very small price to pay in comparison to the risks of paper records which can easily be destroyed in a fire or national catastrophe like Hurricane Katrina.