The use of ICT has proved to be beneficial in the healthcare context as it diminished medical errors, ensures rapid exchange of information, enables healthcare professionals to make decisions more efficiently. Bowman (2013) stresses that Electronic Health Record systems (EHR) are crucial for the improvement of safety and quality, but the researcher also notes that there are significant hazards associated with the use of EHR. These hazards include data safety, software errors, as well as the overall efficiency of EHR. Data safety is one of the most important aspects as violations in this area can lead to negative effects for patients as well as the healthcare facility. Lavin, Harper, and Barr (2015) add that the lack of skills and improper use of documentation can also be regarded as barriers to the successful use of EHR. It is possible to consider some examples of the use of such technologies to estimate its efficacy.
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One of the examples of the use of EHR is the utilization of inter-professional electronic documents (I-PEDs). The system was aimed at sharing healthcare-related information between different agencies including hospitals, laboratories and so on (Kimble, 2014). The data shared could include tests results, diagnosis, treatment plan, contact information of patients and so on. The system managed to solve an important problem of managing data. Thus, all the stakeholders (those who have access) could easily access the necessary information and make the necessary changes. At the same time, people still tended to contact each other in traditional ways (through phone calls or email). The major reason for that was the peculiarity of the system that ‘censored’ the information uploaded (Kimble, 2014). The data that were not consistent with certain standards and criteria were not included. Therefore, the healthcare professionals who used the system had to contact each other to share the information that was omitted but was often relevant.
Another example of the use of EHR is the application of eClinicalWorks in one of healthcare facilities in Atlanta, New Jersey (Fernandopulle & Patel, 2010). The system had its benefits but was also associated with several drawbacks. The major benefit was the availability of data as practitioners could easily access the necessary data without looking for some documents. Another advantage of the digital system was easiness of comprehension as healthcare professionals did not have to try to understand different types of handwriting (Fernandopulle & Patel, 2010). The practitioners also appreciated the easiness of information exchange. Nevertheless, the drawbacks were also quite significant as the system worked quite slowly due to the abundance of data. The system enabled practitioners to make electronic prescriptions, which was very convenient. However, soon they realized that the system was not secured enough as anyone could prescribe medication in the name of any practitioner (Fernandopulle & Patel, 2010). Lab results were often distorted due to some system failures. Finally, clinical alerts (an option that made notes on the use of medication) became overwhelming as alerts appeared in the vast majority of cases. It is necessary to note that these issues were later handled, but some errors and malfunctions still occur. The collaboration between practitioners and software producers is beneficial for eliminating such errors.
Being a nurse practitioner, I have some experience of work with and without EHR. Clearly, my work without EHR was more time-consuming as collecting information concerning test results, as well as writing down all the necessary information, took some time. When I had a chance to work using EHR, I acknowledged the benefits of this system. Many procedures became automatized, and I could quickly access all the necessary information. I also noticed that patients were more satisfied as they did not have to tell about their conditions and background to different healthcare professionals. However, there were some cases when I understood that documents are safer to a certain extent. There were several instances of the system’s malfunction, and we could not access any information. Once, the system did not work for several days, and we had to do everything the old way, but, luckily, we still had the option to use print documents. Clearly, it is crucial for any EHR to function properly and have some backup plans in case of malfunction. There can be some database where the data are stored and that can be accessed easily.
In conclusion, it is possible to note that EHR can be regarded as a beneficial tool that can ensure the necessary quality of services provided. However, it is also clear that such systems still have certain drawbacks that should be eliminated. Healthcare facilities will benefit from paperless procedures, but they should ensure that their EHR system works properly, and the data are secure. Malfunctions and security breach can be seen as the most serious issues to address. It is also vital to train the staff to make sure that the technology is properly used. Therefore, the collaboration between software producers and healthcare facilities is important as it will result in the development of efficient EHR systems.
Bowman, S. (2013). Impact of electronic health record systems on information integrity: Quality and safety implications. Perspectives in Health Information Management, 10(1). Web.
Fernandopulle, R., & Patel, N. (2010). How the electronic health record did not measure up to the demands of our medical home practice. Health Affairs, 29(4), 622-628.
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Kimble, C. (2014). Electronic health records: Cure-all or chronic condition? Global Business and Organizational Excellence, 33(4), 63-74.
Lavin, M., Harper, E., Barr, N. (2015). Health information technology, patient safety, and professional nursing care documentation in acute care settings. OJIN: The Online Journal of Issues in Nursing, 20(2). Web.