Electronic Health Records (EHR) or electronic medical records (EMR) can be used extensively in healthcare and medical sciences. They have many features that enable patients and healthcare professionals to easily access to all important and relevant records.
The Indian scenario
India has a mixed healthcare system consisting of a large number of hospitals run by the central and state governments and the private sector.
The level of use of information and communication technology (ICT) in the healthcare sector in India has been lower than in other countries. At the same time, both union and state governments are working on several fronts to make use of the opportunities ICT offers.
The Indian government intends to introduce a uniform system for the maintenance of EMR/ EHR by hospitals and healthcare providers. An expert committee was set up to develop EMR/ EHR standards, after which the 'Electronic Health Record Standards for India' were finalised and approved by the central Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
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 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
Drawbacks of HER
EHRs and EMRs also come with some disadvantages. Eternal vigilance and scrutiny at multiple levels are needed for security. A slight lapse here and there, and the whole system can go into a tailspin, creating havoc.
Highly sought-after information in the black market
Confidential information, such as the patient's health condition, is 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.
The deployment of a radical solution like EHR in your medical establishment can pose substantial challenges. However, innovative financial products like doctor loans provide the liquidity to overcome these financial barriers in deploying this solution.
- Setting up and maintaining these records is very expensive. The cost of purchasing and installing an EHR can range from Rs. 10 lakh to Rs. 45 lakh, depending 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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