What is an Electronic Medical Record?

As part of the Affordable Care Act, almost everything health-care related must be part of an electronic medical record. Electronic medical records, also known as EMRs, are digital versions of a patient’s medical record as opposed to traditional paper medical reports and files. Electronic medical records are used in most healthcare facilities today because they offer many benefits and are the required form of communication regarding a patient’s healthcare.

What is an Electronic Medical Record?

An electronic medical record is a digital version of the traditional paper charts found in clinics, doctors’ offices and hospitals. In the past when you visited a doctor, the doctor or nurse would physically write all your information on paper, put it in a paper manila and store it in an old-time metal cabinet or file cabinet. Electronic medical records allow the healthcare provider to enter the information into an electronic device where it is stored on the medical provider’s healthcare system. It can then be viewed by other medical professionals working in that facility, such as radiology, the lab, admissions or other specialists. Information found in an electronic medical records includes medical history, allergies, immunizations, medications, diagnoses and treatment.

Benefits of EMRs

There are several benefits of using EMRs, but the main benefit is that a patient’s health information can be monitored over a long period of time by several healthcare providers. It can also help monitor when patients are due to come in for checkups, blood pressure readings or other preventative screenings. EMRs help a medical facility run smoother and provide better care.

When a patient visited a doctor in the past, all information from that visit was entered on the paper chart and then filed in that office. With EMRs, the doctor or nurse enters all the patient information into the computer. If that patient comes back a few months later but sees a different doctor, the new doctor only has to enter the patient’s name or date of birth into the system and all information on that patient will show up.

EMRs allow the system to be more efficient because a patient now has one medical chart rather than different charts from every department they’ve visited. Other benefits include:

  • Saving on paper
  • Important health info readily available to all medical professionals
  • Upgraded and updated medical records
  • Decreased billing errors
  • Faster to type than hand-write information
  • Improves patient care
  • Provides safer patient care

Related Resource: 10 Great Deals: Master’s in Health Informatics Online

Electronic Medical Records vs Electronic Health Records vs Personal Health Records

Although they’re often thought of as the same thing, there is a difference between electronic medical records (EMR), electronic health records (EMR) according to HealthIT.gov.

  • Electronic medical records include all information on a patient regarding the patient’s health. This information can be accessed by all medical professionals working in that same clinic or hospital.
  • Electronic health records are very similar to electronic medical records in that they both store a patient’s healthcare information. The difference is that electronic medical records can only be viewed by the healthcare providers working in that specific facility. Electronic health records can be viewed by various facilities and healthcare providers. If a patient chooses to visit a new doctor at a different location, the new doctor will have access to important health information.
  • Personal health records hold the same kind of information as electronic health records, such as medications, diagnoses and treatment plants, but personal health records can be viewed by the patient.

Having to enter all of a patient’s health information may seem daunting to healthcare professionals at first, but they eventually make it easier to maintain a patient’s medical file. Having all a patient’s health information stored as an electronic medical record can provide the patient with the best possible healthcare.