Today, the technological progress and the development of information systems allow for considerably facilitating numerous processes and operations in a variety of spheres, including health care. In particular, the innovational information systems permit for more effectually storing and retrieving the information pertaining to patients, their medical history, and drug prescriptions; for the alleviated provision of patient education; for better control of medication compliance; for the provision of medical assistance from a remote location, etc.
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These innovations significantly facilitate the work of the nurses by letting them to more easily access the information about the patient, better prescribe drugs and control their use, communicate with the patients without much effort, etc.
The current paper focuses on the use of electronic medical records, which is an innovative technology that was recently developed and is already being implemented in some hospitals across the United States of America. After elaborating on the essence of the technology and its main features, an example of the implementation of this technology and its results are described in greater detail.
An Example of a Decision-Making Support Tool Used in Health Care: EMR
Nowadays, there exists a wide range of innovative technologies that can be utilized in the sphere of health care to make the work easier for medics, save their time, improve their efficacy, and, as a consequence, enhance patient outcomes. An example of such a technology is electronic health records (EHR), which are also known as electronic medical records (EMR). EMRs are software systems that permit keeping, processing, maintaining, and retrieving information about the medical history of a hospital’s patients in a quick and effective manner (Gellert, Ramirez, & Webster, 2015; Risko et al., 2014).
More specifically, various types of EMR may allow for storing and accessing a wide array of data pertaining to the health of the patients, for instance, their whole medical history, their vitals, the diagnoses they have at the moment and had in the past, as well as the results of their various laboratory tests, information about the medications they take and the allergies they suffer from, diagnostic images, their demographical data, etc. (Aller, Shortliffe, & Cimino, 2014).
Therefore, it might be possible to assert that EMRs are primarily systems for storage and management of the data about the medical history of the patients. Because they permit for keeping all the data related to a patient in a place which can be easily accessed by health care professionals in virtually any situation, they significantly facilitate the process of decision-making when it comes, for example, to the need to prescribe medications for a given patient: the physician or nurse can easily see the patient’s allergies, the results of their tests, the list of drugs they currently take and the dosage of these drugs, etc., which is pivotal if medication errors are to be avoided (Gellert et al., 2015).
This allows for classifying EMR as a decision-making support tool, although, obviously, its uses cover a wider area than just a decision-making assistant (Risko et al., 2014). For instance, another important use of EMR takes place during the process of dispersion of medication. It is known that a large percentage of medication errors occur during the process of drug dispersion (Santos, Poland, Wright, & Longmore, 2016). A nurse using EMR is less likely to make a medication mistake because of e.g., the unclear handwriting or similar issues.
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In addition, patients who have access to their EMR may also be able to better comply with e.g., medication intake guidelines due to similar reasons. All of this makes EMR a highly useful instrument in the sphere of health care.
An Experience Related to Using EMR
In the past, I had an experience that was related to the use of EMR in a hospital. A certain amount of time ago, I had a highly adverse health condition, and I was hospitalized. The hospital in which I was treated had started utilizing EMR not a long time ago prior to my hospitalization. Generally speaking, the staff at the facility in which I was treated had already started being accustomed to EMR, but in certain cases, they would still experience a number of problems related to the utilization of this software.
Therefore, while the use of EMR allowed the medics to more easily store, access and process information about their patients, the members of the staff sometimes had to spend an additional amount of time so as to figure out how to do a needed task or retrieve a certain piece of information pertaining to a particular patient.
On the whole, there were several positive aspects of the use of EMR in that hospital, which I noticed. In particular, it was easy for nurses to check and dispense medications. This aspect has previously been mentioned; however, there was more to it because I also was able to more easily control the medications which were given to me by the nurses, for I could access my EMR records via Internet-based systems. In addition, I also could easily check the results of my laboratory tests whenever I had a desire to; on the other hand, in a hospital with the traditional, paper-based records this procedure would have been considerably more difficult.
As for the negative aspects, it has already been mentioned that the members of the medical personnel of the hospital in which I was treated were not completely accustomed to utilizing the EMR technologies. As a result, they sometimes had difficulty in obtaining or inputting the needed information, which consumed additional temporal resources.
On the whole, this adverse aspect of the implementation of EMR could have been improved if the management of the hospital had supplied their personnel with more training on how to use EMR; it was apparent that the amount and/or quality of training they provided was not sufficient to fully accommodate the members of the medical staff to the utilization of EMR in practice.
All in all, it should be stressed that EMR is an innovational technology which allows for easily inputting, storing, retrieving and processing information about the health history of a patient. The utilization of this technology brings numerous benefits to the sphere of health care, such as facilitated access to the patient data, avoidance of medication errors, better medication compliance of the patients, etc. EMR can be considered a decision-making support tool, for, among its other uses, it permits for more easily making decisions related to health care by supplying medics with an easier access to comprehensive information about their patients.
The purpose of this paper was to review an innovative information system in health care and elaborate on its essence, functions and purposes, as well as to provide an example of its use in health care practice. Several insights pertaining to the use of EMR were gained. In particular, the knowledge that EMR is highly useful in health care will stimulate me to employ it if I work as a private practitioner, or advocate its use in a hospital if I work in one in the future. In addition, I will understand that in order to accommodate the staff to using EMR, it is better to organize training for them, and will promote the provision of such training in my future workplace.
Aller, R. D., Shortliffe, E. H., & Cimino, J. J. (2014). Review of biomedical informatics. Journal of Pathology Informatics, 5, 42. Web.
Gellert, G. A., Ramirez, R., & Webster, S. L. (2015). The rise of the medical scribe industry: implications for the advancement of electronic health records. JAMA, 313(13), 1315-1316.
Risko, N., Anderson, D., Golden, B., Wasil, E., Barrueto, F., Pimentel, L., & Hirshon, J. M. (2014). The impact of electronic health record implementation on emergency physician efficiency and patient throughput. Healthcare, 2, 201-204. Web.
Santos, J. M. S., Poland, F., Wright, D., & Longmore, T. (2016). Medicines administration for residents with dysphagia in care homes: A small scale observational study to improve practice. International journal of pharmaceutics, 512(2), 416-421.