Electronic Health Records Pros and Cons List

As people become more and more comfortable using technology to keep track of personal information, many health care providers are beginning to keep patients’ health records in an electronic format. There are some very strong benefits to switching over to an electronic form of record keeping. There are also several disadvantages that need to be weighed before throwing out the paper, however.

List of Pros of Electronic Health Records

1. Accessibility
Physical records require much more effort to access than electronic ones. When a patient’s data needed to be accessed, their file must be found in storage, pulled and transported to the office or hospital. This often creates delays in a doctor seeing a crucial piece of information before prescribing a certain course of treatment. With the information just a keystroke away, it is much easier for health care professionals to look up electronic records.

2. Consolidation
If a person is visiting multiple doctors to treat varying conditions, the risk of drug interactions creates very dire health consequences. With electronic health records, however, all of these files can be consolidated into one place. A cardiologist can see what the primary care physician has already prescribed for the patient before making his or her own recommendations. This greatly reduces the risk of drug interactions.

3. Charge Capture
Healthcare organizations record a patient’s use of equipment, medication, staff and other hospital resources. These records are then used to bill the appropriate party. Electronic health records make it possible for all of these charges to be captured in one place. This makes it easier to determine if a charge has been made incorrectly. It also helps catch people who are using multiple prescriptions to get medications illegally.

List of Cons of Electronic Health Records

1. Miscommunication
If a patient visits two different offices that uses two different systems of electronic records, there is an excellent chance that they will end up with two incomplete files. Once healthcare professionals become accustomed to having all of a patient’s information in one place, they may no longer be as diligent on checking for other records from other offices or hospitals.

2. Learning Curve
In the long run, implementing a system of keeping records electronically should boost productivity in the healthcare system. As people learn how to use the system however, productivity drops initially. This is accounted for by the extra time that it takes staff to use an unfamiliar system. This time period also sees a number of mistakes in record keeping that could have severe consequences for patients whose files are kept incorrectly.

3. Privacy
Identity theft is a growing problem as more information becomes available through computer hacking. Health records contain sensitive information that most people do not want available to others. While measures are in place to protect the privacy of patients as much as possible, no system is invulnerable to beaches.