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The Digital Divide Regarding Electronic Health Record

Introduction

Hospitals in the US and around the world have come to face enormous pressures with the onset of the global pandemic. While bigger hospitals with more room and higher budgets might be able to accommodate the increased flow of patients, the smaller facilities are likely to run low on resources. Although physical space is a big issue, another and less spoken of issue is that of health record keeping. Maintaining health records is essential, as it helps the medical staff make faster decisions based on the previous history of the patients and to decrease the readmission rate, among other reasons. The application of electronic health records improves the efficiency and reliability of the data keeping, improving the work of the hospital. Nevertheless, the medical field is not immune to the Digital Divide that is present in the world today.

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What is the Digital Divide

The concept of a Digital Divide has existed since the invention of the Internet, and its significance has only increased with global digitalization. It refers to the gap between those individuals, groups, and organizations that have access to technology and those that do not, based on different societal and social factors (Ramsetty & Adams, 2020). Although the concept has been in existence for decades, it is becoming increasingly relevant as technological advances increase the difference in the quality of life for those on either end of the spectrum. In the context of healthcare, the digital divide refers to the lag in access to advanced medical technology for critical-access hospitals (Adler-Milstein, Holmgren, Kralovec, Worzala, Searcy & Patel, 2017). Since it is often crucial, especially in times of a global pandemic, to have access to equipment of the best quality, this is problematic and worsens the quality of care in certain areas significantly.

Summary of the Article

In the 2017 article “Electronic health record adoption in US hospitals: the emergence of a digital “advanced use” divide,” Adler-Milstein and colleagues examine the degree of adoption and application of electronic health records in hospitals. The motivation for the study lies in the existence of the digital divide and socio-economic gaps between different areas (Adler-Milstein, Holmgren, Kralovec, Worzala, Searcy & Patel, 2017). By using survey data from the American Hospital Association Information Technology Supplement, the researchers analyzed whether the hospitals of different sizes and resource availability used the innovations efficiently. The results indicated that although most hospitals adopted EHRs, still a considerable lagging from the critical-access hospitals in implementation was evident (Adler-Milstein, Holmgren, Kralovec, Worzala, Searcy & Patel, 2017). The study showed the importance of closing the socio-economic gap between the hospitals with different amounts of funding.

Barriers to Implementation

In the study, researchers identified numerous factors that obstruct the implementation of EHRs. Some of the most prominent barriers include ongoing costs, 62% of hospitals, obtaining physician cooperation, 58%, and up-front costs, 52% (Adler-Milstein, Holmgren, Kralovec, Worzala, Searcy & Patel, 2017). The researchers identified six other barriers, which were most significant for small-scale hospitals.

How Digital Divide Impacts Small Hospitals

The US is prevalently rural, with many of the middle states having access to only small, local hospitals within a miles radius. The rise of necessity for Telehealth, EHRs, and other digital technology in healthcare affects these small and plentiful hospitals primarily (Mishori & Antono, 2020). By lacking access to modern advanced technology, these hospitals are compromising their quality of care, as well as decreasing the efficiency and productivity of the facilities.

References

Adler-Milstein, J., Holmgren, A. J., Kralovec, P., Worzala, C., Searcy, T., & Patel, V. (2017). Electronic health record adoption in US hospitals: the emergence of a digital “advanced use” divide. Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association: JAMIA, 24(6), 1142–1148. Web.

Mishori, R. & Antono, B. (2020). Telehealth, Rural America, and the Digital Divide. Journal of Ambulatory Care Management, 43(4), 319-322.

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Ramsetty, A. & Adams, C. (2020). Impact of the digital divide in the age of COVID-19. Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association, 27(7), 1147–1148, Web.

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StudyCorgi. (2023, January 3). The Digital Divide Regarding Electronic Health Record. Retrieved from https://studycorgi.com/the-digital-divide-regarding-electronic-health-record/

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StudyCorgi. (2023) 'The Digital Divide Regarding Electronic Health Record'. 3 January.

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