An electronic health record (EHR) enables healthcare providers to record patient data electronically rather than using a large folder of paperwork (Mitchell, 2013). EHR also has the potential to perform several tasks that can help in healthcare delivery while observing standards of practice. The Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act, created a provision for incentive compensations to eligible practitioners and eligible hospitals if they can manifest meaningful use of the EHR technology.
The pros of EHRs
Improved patient care
EHRs has the capability to reduce the cases of medical error because they improve the accuracy and clarity of medical records. EHRs make the health information “easily accessible, reduces duplication of tests, reduces the wait times, and patients became more informed to take appropriate decisions” (Gordon, 2012, p. 1366). EHRs help to improve measurement of patient outcomes. EHRs enable immediate access to patient information hence reducing delay in treatment. Besides, since information is stored automatically, different departments can easily track patient’s record.
Guarantees continuity of care
EHRs can assist to follow the patient records rather establishing new records at every encounter. Healthcare departments can share patient information enabling better placement and disease management. EHRs enable providers to maintain consistent communication with their colleagues concerning a certain patient (O’Connor, 2012).
Easy access to information helps reduce the door to balloon time. EHRs are the next milestone in the ongoing progress in the health sector that has the potential to build the relationship between the patients and medical practitioners. This progress has a positive impact in reducing the wait times in the cardiovascular department.
The available information facilitates financial and clinical decisions based on population-specific data. Medical evidence can be utilized to offer quality patient care. Besides, reimbursement is evidence-based. For instance, coding is based on clearer documentation. EHRs support computer-aided coding and facilitate pay for quality reimbursement.
Wider patient engagement
EHRs allows patients to have increased access to their records enhancing a sense of ownership of their care. EHR enables easy capturing and updating of conditions. These strategies can help to reduce the door to balloon time in the cardiovascular department at the Regional Medical Center. EHRs enhance the sharing of patient information between different departments hence reducing the door to balloon time in the cardiovascular department (Claeys, Tomaszewski, Radley, & Wasserman, 2015).
The cons of EHRs
The cost of setting the EHRs as well as the maintenance costs are relatively high. Besides, EHRs use computers that are vulnerable to crashing, virus, and susceptible to user error. Hardware must be replaced and software must be updated regularly. Besides, the clinical staff and providers must be computer literate and possess the relevant skills for using EHRs (Sobel, 2012).
Loss of productivity
EHR creates disruption of workflows for practitioners and providers. This disruption leads to temporary losses in productivity. Besides, EHRs lead to increased medical errors and overreliance on technology (Claeys et al., 2015). Consequently, such errors may put someone’s life in jeopardy.
The risk of patient privacy
EHR facilitates rapid exchange of patient information. Easier access to health records potentially places private information in the hands of malicious people. EHRs make it easier for sensitive information to be leaked or distorted to someone’s advantage (Devkota & Devkota, 2014). Besides, there is no guarantee that medical information is safe from cyber threats such as hacking.
Claeys, C., Tomaszewski, K., Radley, C., & Wasserman, D. (2015). Assessment of consumer likelihood to adopt an electronic health record (EHR) mobile application and the impact of perceived risk of privacy leaks. Value in Health, 18(7), 557-558.
Devkota, B., & Devkota, A. (2014). Electronic health records: advantages of use and barriers to adoption. Health Renaissance, 11(3), 181-184
Gordon, L. (2012). Electronic health records and improved care. Health Affairs, 31(6), 1366-68.
Mitchell, G. (2013). Implications of holding ideas of evidence-based practice in nursing. Nursing Science Quarterly, 26(2), 143-151.
O’Connor, P. (2012). How EHR-based clinical decision support promotes patient-centered care. Diabetes Management, 2(4), 265-267.
Sobel, A. (2012). The move toward electronic health records. Computer, 45(11), 22-23.