The Advantages of EMR Systems

We’re always happy to welcome people interested in doing quality guest posts on this blog.  So, when I got this in my email, I thought it was an important subject to cover on this blog.  The following guest post looks at some of the advantages of an EMR system.  This is a good start for those looking at an EMR system.  I think there are a number of other advantages that aren’t listed below.  I’d love to hear about other advantages of an EMR system in the comments.

The Advantages of EMR Systems

There’s talk of every public hospital in the USA being equipped with electronic medical record systems in a year or two; that’s how popular and necessary these information technology systems have become. And why not, considering the various advantages they hold. EMR systems:

  • Lower costs in the long term: While the initial cost may be high, over a period of time, the average cost of the system becomes much less than a similar manual system. When records are maintained electronically, there is less room for error. Security is also enhanced leading to patient confidentiality and privacy.
  • Eliminate repetitive and unnecessary testing: EMR systems help prevent repetitive testing and thus save both patients and hospitals a lot of money. They can be transferred via email to any hospital or medical practitioner in an instant thus avoiding the need for tests that have already been performed.
  • Provide accurate medical information: Information that’s stored in the electronic format is not prone to human error and can be retrieved easily at the touch of a button or the click of a mouse. Search and retrieval times are a fraction of what they would be in manual systems.
  • Allow information to be available anytime, anywhere: Doctors and other medical personnel can access medical records from anywhere using handheld devices like the iPhone and related software. This allows them to continue treatment no matter where they are and also to pass on information so that other physicians can also provide emergency care when needed.
  • Allow for streamlined information: The information is stored in such a way so that retrieval of select data based on certain criteria and filters can be accessed. Besides this, physicians can also use the system to prescribe medicines for their patients from pharmacies that are part of the program. This allows patients to get refills directly without having to go to the doctor or the pharmacist. EMR systems also allow physicians to order diagnostic tests and view the results online.

This article is written by Kat Sanders, who regularly blogs on the topic of phlebotomist school at her blog Health Zone Blog. She welcomes your comments and questions at her email address:katsanders25@gmail.com.

About the author

John Lynn

John Lynn

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com, a network of leading Healthcare IT resources. The flagship blog, Healthcare IT Today, contains over 13,000 articles with over half of the articles written by John. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 20 million times.

John manages Healthcare IT Central, the leading career Health IT job board. He also organizes the first of its kind conference and community focused on healthcare marketing, Healthcare and IT Marketing Conference, and a healthcare IT conference, EXPO.health, focused on practical healthcare IT innovation. John is an advisor to multiple healthcare IT companies. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can be found on Twitter: @techguy.

8 Comments

  • EMR systems are being adopted in many hospitals and private clinics. This would take time to get the whole data from paper to get digital but in near future all the US residents will have a online medical records as Obama adminitration has set a deadline by 2014 to digitize all the data of hospitals.

  • Yes, EMR adoption is still under 20%. There’s a long way to go still, but it’s going to happen sooner or later. It just has to happen.

    I should clarify that it was actually Bush that set the date of 2014 for EMR adoption and Obama has continued what Bush started. I think they’re going to find themselves well short of that goal, but regardless it’s good that they are pushing in that direction.

    However, even if we have broad EMR adoption by 2014, let’s not assume that patients will have access to all of these various EMR systems and that these EMR systems will be ready to communicate with each other. That will take some time.

  • It’s nice to see that there are many EMR companies are out there and increasing the options that many physicians have is going only help out the practice. Physicians now can take there time in deciding which EMR is best suited for them. I just hope that all practices and physicians alike do realize the 2014 deadline that President Obama has set forth.

  • Thanks everyone for such a thought provoking discussion. As a healthcare professional and a vendor, I can see the benefits and drawbacks on both sides of the fence. DOctors are wasting far too much money on “powerhouses” that produce no pwer. Smaller EMR vendors such as SequelMed, Eclinical Works, Athena Health provides much better quality, interoperabilty and flexibility and the pricing cannot be beat. (By the way, I did mention my product) there are some vendors who have objectivity. Finally, the HIM world is going to wake up one day and wonder why did they spend so much money on a system which requires a Doctor to become a programmer , when web tools are more trendy and seldom ever goes down. Hopefully the day comes soon.

  • Without this, nothing else really matters!

    EMRs must be: Easy to use, simple to learn, easy to install, affordable.

    Help providers be more productive and efficient.

    Allow EFFECTIVE and Meaninful Use

    These are the keys to success. If your EMR does not do all the above, you had better redesign because some EMRs do all of the above (I have seen them and used them) and they will be taking market share! If you are an EMR Vendor and your EMR does not do all of the above, tear it down, start all over from scratch and build a “good” EMR.

  • I adapted the free OpenEMR web-based system to work as a stand-alone in Windows for my wife’s house call practice because the “interoperability” issue denies one reality – 10% of the populace is simply not served by adequate interconnectivity.

    The software does what is needed. I also learned a lot about what it needs in the way of support – hand holding at least initially for most practitioners because they know clinical practice, but don’t think like computers, and vice versa.

    If there has been any one thing I would say has been a major downside, it has been the reality of “time suck”. Because so much info CAN be put into records, TOO much info IS put in.

    My background is in manufacturing and quality – areas which reward effectivity and efficiency (at least until they discover they can save even more by shipping it to a place which pays a dollar a day). But any IE will tell you that you should NEVER make a task require more than is absolutely needed to do the job, and ALWAYS make it sufficiently straight forward, with built-in tolerance stackups, so the normal working range will always make appropriate quality. That is what “Six Sigma” and SPC are really all about.

    Sadly, my personal relationship with my wife, and my technical inadequacies prevented my driving toward the perfection of the definition I described. Otherwise, instead of typing long winded SOAP notes, the systems would evolve practice specific checkoffs which could be handled on an iPad or tablet PC. There is the real opportunity I see, but sadly have no personal ability to achieve. However, as I imagine it, a psych practice should be able to checkoff common symptoms, which describe a patient, needing little more than a paragraph of specifics for a session. And I’ll bet the same could be true for dental care, chiropractice or cardiac surgery.

    Those checkoffs would by extension generate the billing based on the common selections of CPT and ICD or HCPCS (or DSM-IV for psych).

    Unfortunately, I also see that the economics of systems solutions makes the likelihood of such systems rising to become the standards as very remote. In our system, money drives things, and decision-making is usually not well aware of low cost alternatives.

    A perfect example is the “interoperability” issue. Why MUST there be a national data center mentality for health information which is so personal an issue, especially when there is a VERY simple alternative which needs no internet risks whatsoever? Do you realize that all your medical info could fit on a mini SD chip which could be kept in your wallet? Smart people would ask their personal healthcare provider to keep a copy, for easy duplication, but it could be easily secured with a PIN. Then, when that person wants health care, they need only present their chip to their provider, wherever they are, and that provider would add whatever is valuable from their encounter. It could be copied to the “duplicate” chip once the person returns to their own PCP.

    I believe we should start thinking of ways to make the system LESS intrusive and less all-encompassing, which I feel is obscuring the real purpose – to reduce duplicative costs and improve the real care. As I understand it, even DOD thinks my idea is reasonable, precisely because it allows the info to be available where it is needed, and otherwise safe where it is not.

    But we also need to think about efficiency in what we put there, because even modern storage systems still have capacity limits, and providers have much better ways to spend their time. We need to think in terms that EACH AND EVERY UNNEEDED CHARACTER ENTERED FOR ANY PURPOSE IS WASTED.

    My two cents. Thanks.

    Joe Holzer BSME, MBA, Idea Man, EMR of CNY

  • The EMR alerted the physician, who shared his concern immediately with the patient. just as happy to have learned that this EMR conservatively identified what turned out to be a false alarm.

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