Electronic Health Records: Benefits & Challenges
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Electronic Health Records: Benefits & Challenges

  • Highlights

  • EHRs and the Indian scenario

  • Advantages of EHR implementation

  • How EHR facilities can be misused

  • How EHRs systems improve healthcare

Electronic Health Records (EHR) or electronic medical records (EMR), can be extensively used in the fields of healthcare and medical sciences. They have a number of features that enable the patient and the medical professional healthcare provider to have complete and easy access to all important records that relate to the patient.

The Indian scenario

India has a mixed system of healthcare consisting of a large number of hospitals run by the Central Government and State Government as well as the private sector.

In general, the level of use of information and communication technology (ICT) in the healthcare sector in the country has been lower in comparison to other countries. At the same time, both union and State Governments are working on several fronts to make use of the opportunities offered by ICT.

Government of India intends to introduce a uniform system for maintenance of EMR / EHR by the hospitals and healthcare providers in the country. An expert committee was set up to develop EMR / EHR Standards after which the 'Electronic Health Record Standards for India' have been finalised and approved by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India.

Advantages of Electronic Health Records

EHRs and the ability to exchange health information electronically can help you provide higher quality and safer care for patients while creating tangible enhancements for your organisation. EHRs provide:

- Better health care by improving all aspects of patient care, including safety, effectiveness, patient-centeredness, communication, education, timeliness, and efficiency.

- Better health by encouraging healthier lifestyles in the entire population, including increased physical activity, better nutrition, avoidance of behavioral risks, and wider use of preventative care.

- Improved efficiencies and lower health care costs by promoting preventative medicine and improved coordination of health care services, as well as by reducing waste and redundant tests.

- Better clinical decision making by integrating patient information from multiple sources.

- Accurate, up-to-date, and complete information about patients at the point of care

- Secure sharing of electronic information with patients and other clinicians

- Safer and more reliable electronic prescribing with seamless communication to pharmacies

- Quick remote access to data

- Reduced costs through decrease in paperwork, improving safety, reducing duplication of testing, and improving health.

- Easier follow ups on cases and referral to specialists as per requirement

- Improved productivity of the medical professionals

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Drawbacks of EHR

EHRs and EMRs also come with some disadvantages. Eternal vigilance and scrutiny at multiple levels is needed for security. A slight lapse here and there and the whole system can go into a tailspin, thereby creating havoc.

Highly sought-after information in the black market

Information that is extremely confidential, such as the patient's health condition, is very susceptible to data leaks and breaches.

Access to it helps pharmaceutical companies target their products and advertisements, since these records give the most accurate representation of the demographics for a product.

Other drawbacks

The deployment of a radical solution like EHR in your medical establishment can pose substantial challenges. However, innovative financial products like doctor loans are available to provide the liquidity to overcome the financial barriers in deploying this solution.

- Setting up and maintaining these records are very expensive. The cost of purchasing and installing an HER can range from Rs.10 lakh to Rs.45 lakh. The cost depends on whether you choose an onsite or cloud based EHR deployment.

- These being a product of technology; they emphasise more on billing rather than on provision of clinical care

- They take a long time to get trained in and get used to

- They sometimes impede the physician-patient relationship

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