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January 31, 2020 | Farah Jassawalla

The Importance of EHR for Patients & Doctors

The advent of technology has helped make numerous aspects of our lives much easier, and the healthcare industry is not any different when it comes to being positively affected. Just as everything around is slowly being digitized, and offices are switching from those tall manual filing cabinets to state-of-the-art databases, the healthcare industry has also begun to do the same.
 
One such example of technology making waves in the healthcare industry is EHR. The term EHR stands for electronic health records and is all the rage nowadays. Keeping an extensive record of health records is extremely important as it aids not only the decision-making process of doctors with regard to the health of the patient but can also benefit patients in a number of different ways.
 
However, before we direct our attention towards how doctors and patients are benefited through EHR, it is imperative we first focus on why there is a need for these electronic health records in the first place. The reasons contributing to the need for EHR are detailed in the paragraphs below.

Why do we need EHR?

 
 Paper records can be damaged easily
 
Paper records are more prone to being damaged as compared to electronic health records. There is a higher probability for paper records to be destroyed over time due to the decaying nature of paper. 
Furthermore, since the paper records are usually filled out using ink, there is a greater chance that the ink can fade over time due to exposure to air or other chemicals in the environment. Therefore, as compared to EHR, paper records can also not be used in the long term.
 
To ensure patient safety
 
Since paper records are more likely to get damaged and the ink can fade in the long run, this could lead to a plethora of problems. One of these is that the safety of the patient is endangered due to timely health records not being available, which could lead to a misdiagnosis by the doctors.
 
To provide quality care
 
When a doctor takes a Hippocratic Oath, they are basically committing themselves to provide quality care to all their patients. However, the quality of care can be severely undermined if proper health records are not available to aid the doctor in making the right treatment decision at the right time.
 
Makes the healthcare system more productive and efficient  
 
Paper health records have to be stored in a manual filing cabinet. This is a major problem because if a patient is out of city or state, then the paper records have to be first requested if a doctor wants to view them. This is extremely inefficient as it slows down the healthcare system and also makes it difficult for both patients and doctors to get access to timely treatment. Electronic health records can be used to effectively deal with this problem since they are readily available anywhere.
 
Now that we have shed light on why electronic health records are the need of the hour, we can move on towards discussing the benefits of EHR:

Benefits of EHR

Electronic health records are readily available anywhere and anytime. Therefore, if someone wants to check the health records of a patient, all that a doctor requires is to extract the relevant information from the main database. This allows for ease of access and quick decision making.
 
Just like doctors can quickly and promptly access the electronic health records, patients can do so as well if they wish to view their past medical history.
 
The electronic health records are also more difficult to manipulate thereby ensuring that the information in them is correct.
 
The EHR can also be updated much more easily, and if they are updated in the main database then they will also be updated with the physicians. This is an advantage that electronic health records have over paper health records since they would have to be manually updated everywhere, which is time-consuming and has room for error.
 
Considering all the uses listed above, it is evident that EHR has immense benefits for both doctors and patients. While patients have access to a more productive healthcare system and their safety along with correct treatment is ensured, doctors also are saved from having their medical license revoked due to misdiagnosis.

Farah Jassawalla

Farah Jassawalla is a graduate of the Lahore School of Economics. She is also a writer, and a healthcare enthusiast, having closely observed case studies while working with Lahore's thriving general physicians at their clinics.

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