Electronic Medical Records

Electronic medical records (EMR) is a hot button topic in healthcare today. It’s a huge throw down in the public & political arena. Electronic medical records versus Twentieth Century medical charts… Do we stick with paper charts or go electronic? Are you ready to rumble? Or, are you ready to convert? EMR conversion, that is. You decide.

The primary benefit of electronic medical records is superior patient care. How does EMR claim to provide this? Through the speedy delivery of information transported via new technology. EMR patient medical history is instantaneously identified across all services without sorting through paper charts. That’s right. No more paper charts. With the touch of a screen EMR reveals patient history. All of it. Regardless of which practitioner or medical institution provided that patient service. There is a new continuity with electronic medical records.  More efficient access to a patient’s history translates into better patient care.

Registered Nurse using EMR at portable work station
Registered Nurse using EMR at portable work station - photo by: {link:http://www.flickr.com/photos/wonderlane/4538042093/ }Wonderlane{/link}

What else can electronic medical records do? It is well known Twentieth Century billing practices are a pain. The medical staff complains about it. Deflated morale is contagious. It can be worse than flu. But, electronic medical records change the dance between billing departments and insurance companies. It levels the playing field. Billing departments using EMR can more easily track an insurance company reaching the 30 day mark for a claim received. A billing coordinator using EMR can easily notify insurance companies when they are past their 45 day deadlines. Managing billing & coding electronically with EMR frees up accounts receivable for what they really want to do: daily billing. This is an incredible advantage for a busy healthcare facility.

So, what does EMR mean for a growing medical practice? The technology of EMR demonstrates improved cash flow. Morale is boosted. Medical staff efficiency increases. Electronic medical records provide vast improvement to old fashioned medical charting.  It provides support to medical staff within their niche jobs. Nurses, referral coordinators and billing coordinators are supported by the increased efficiency of electronic medical records.

Of the 5000 or so hospitals in the USA currently less than 12% demonstrate meaningful use of electronic medical records. Physicians use EMR around 16%. What is the hold up in conversion to electronic records? Is it cost? And, are all digital platforms for EMR the same?

The tricky part of converting to electronic medical records is translating medical practice work flow and the human touch into a smooth, user friendly, digital-friendly process. All EMR platforms are not the same. It is a competitive market.  Data migration from paper to electronic records is not a cause for downtime.  But, there are always kinks to work out with any electronic record conversion. Initial costs involved are offset by government funded incentives to implement electronic medical records.

Registered Nurse converting data from paper to EMR
Registered Nurse converting data from paper to EMR - photo by: {link:http://www.flickr.com/photos/mc4army/4406919358/}MC4 Army{/link}

Electronic medical records make people feel good about their work. Whether at a large hospital or for a small private practice, the efficiency of using an electronic medical record system will strengthen patient care and boost morale. This translates into increased patient satisfaction. That is the goal of electronic medical records.

EMR is revolutionary for the practice of modern medicine. When you do the research you will see for yourself. Electronic medical records provide the new paradigm for safe efficient healthcare. It’s the way of the future. And, what does EMR mean for trees? Well, it’s definitely looking up for the trees.

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