How the technology of electronic records has altered healthcare administration and patient care
Over the years, there has been a lot of growth and development in various industries, particularly in the twenty first century, especially, owing to the fact that among the areas that have synonymously developed in the past years include the information and technology front. As a result, there has been improved efficiency in service delivery, accuracy, timesaving and also speed in carrying out of various tasks, and in bulks. However, the development of the technology department has had both positive and negative impacts, especially, with its implementation in the medical field.
Previously, especially in the earlier and mid parts of the twentieth century, manual methods were used in the storage, organization and planning of patient data and information (Freudeinheim, 2012). This has changed in the twenty first century and the later years of the twentieth century, as these manual methods have been gradually replaced by the electronic methods, otherwise referred to as Electronic Medical Records (EMR). This paper will focus on looking at the Electronic Health Records system in comparison to the manual healthcare records’ system, and the implications that both systems have had, in order to ascertain the pros and cons of each of the systems.
Comparison and contrast of the manual and the electronic health record systems in the healthcare sector
- Cost implications
In every industry or corporation, cost implications in the implementation of every strategy or system is one of the most essential things that the management department always puts into consideration. This is due to the fact that the systems implemented should be cost-effective, in order to ensure that the corporation does not operate at a loss or a lower financial edge. This is one of the major factors that have been put into consideration in the EHR vs. the manual systems’ approach, considering that both of these strategies have varied financial implications. Having this in mind, one of the greatest challenges that the Electronic Medical Records have faced and that has made it get varied opinions from various parties across the United States and other countries across the world include the high financial implications that come with the implementation of the system. For example, in the United States, the government used over US$ 19 billion in the year 2009, in order to encourage and implement the Electronic Health Records system, and also to digitize the patients’ data. This is contrary to the manual system, which used way less funds for its upkeep and maintenance. In the year 2009 alone, the manual healthcare recordkeeping system used less than US$ 1 billion for maintenance, booking and recordkeeping. From this analysis, therefore, it is evident that the manual system is way cheaper compared to the Electronic Healthcare System, and this is one of the major advantages of using the manual system (Greenemeier, 2009).
However, according to The University of Pittsburgh’s Medical Centre, the Electronic Health Records system is only expensive in its initial stages of implementation, and the reason why it has been highly recommended is due to the fact that after 5 years’ of implementation, the healthcare institution should be able to recover all the initial costs of implementation, as well as break even on the new system. In making long term decisions and strategies for the healthcare institution, the University of Pittsburg’s Medical Centre have, therefore, recommended the use and implementation of an Electronic Healthcare Records system. However, it is necessary to note the fact that there are other incurred costs in the implementation of the E.H.R system, and this is one of the factors that have led to medical staff’s failure to approve of the system, since it also has financial implications on them. For example, in the University of Pittsburg’s Medical Center, the E.H.R database system has over 29,000 users (patients and clients) and over 5,000 professional staff users (for example, doctors and physicians). Serving the 29,000 users is in many cases cumbersome and tasking, especially, considering the fact that the number is not evenly distributed across the day, month and year. This leads to an indefinite, required workforce. At the same time, the medical staff is expected to acquaint itself to the new strategy, which requires training. Some of the staff members at UPMC have been rigid to change, and this is one of the factors affecting an effective implementation of the system. At UPMC, for example, the E.H.R system has been in operation since the year 1996, but was only fully implemented in the year 2004, as a result of the staff members’ perception towards the system (Freudeinheim, 2009).
Efficiency is one of the most essential qualities that are put into consideration before the implementation of any strategy in organizations and corporations. This is due to the fact that the program or system to be implemented should be efficient, and should supersede the current or the previously existing ones. In this case, the electronic healthcare recordkeeping system, has been rated as more efficient in terms of workload and speed, in comparison to the manual system. At the same time, healthcare institutions (as well as other institutions) have been looking for ways and means to reduce workload and bulk data in their offices and various departments, and this is one of the solutions that the Electronic Healthcare Record System has provided, much to the approval of these healthcare institutions, as well as the government. With less bulk, it has become easier for the healthcare institutions to coordinate the data they have for each patient, as well as to easily trace the data needed in each case and in the organizations, much to the satisfactions of the healthcare staff and stakeholders (Greenemeier, 2009).
The number of patients that the various healthcare institutions across the country attend to is yet another major aspects that have been put into consideration, leading to the preference of the new Electronic Healthcare Recordkeeping strategy. For example, according to Dr. Dawn S. Milliner from the University of Pittsburg’s Medical Centre, there are over one million patients attended to in different hospitals across the country, annually. With this in mind, therefore, it is necessary to establish a system through which all these patients’ data will be maintained. Considering the fact that some of these patients are referral patients who are normally referred from one hospital to another depending with their medical needs, then it is necessary to establish a system through which each of the referral hospitals will be able to access their data, profile as well as their medical needs. Maintaining all these tasks through a manual health record system is cumbersome, and this is where the electronic method comes in, since the medical institutions can virtually access these patients’ profiles, consequently, reducing paperwork. Consequently, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality has been developing database through which healthcare institutions and hospitals can access such patients’ profiles and medical needs, as this will be an effective strategy in making sure that the patients will not require paperwork as a way of formal introduction to the referral hospitals (Freudeinheim, 2012).
- Data safety and security
Data safety and security is an essential aspect for every corporation to put into consideration, because loss of the same might lead to negative outcomes, such as hacking or data manipulation. However, it is necessary to note that both systems (electronic and manual) have their own specific advantages and disadvantages, when it comes to institutional and patients’ data security. For example, it is necessary to note that there are chances of data hacking and manipulation with the use of the Electronic Healthcare System. This is highly dependent on the security system that the healthcare institution applies and adopts in carrying out its strategies and operations. In most cases, the ISO 27001:2005 security system has been recommended, since it is not only easy to use across all departments, but also monitors the entry and access of data between various departments and even institutions. At the same time, it also limits the amount of data and information that an external party can access concerning the patients and the institution, as well. Therefore, with an effective security system, the electronic system has been preferred over the manual system (Greenemeier, 2009).
Finally, ethic is one of the most unexpected, yet highly questioned aspect that should be put into consideration in the implementation of an ideal health recordkeeping system. Over the years, with the implementation of the Electronic Health record system has raised questions across various parties, with many doctors having a skeptical attitude towards it, as a result of various, emerging ethical questions. Some of these ethical questions include cloned documentation. This is a case whereby various parties might access the institution’s or patient’s data and alter or change some of the information, in order to suit a specific goal. This might mislead the doctors and other healthcare assistants providing care to the patients, and as a result, this might lead to the wrong medication to the patients. This is contrary to the use of a manual system, where chances of changing the patients’ information are rare (Greenemeier, 2009).
Freudenheim, M. (2012). “The Ups and Downs of Electronic Medical Records.” The New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/09/health/the-ups-and-downs-of-electronic-medical-records-the-digital-doctor.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0 on 2ndAugust 2013.
Greenemeier, L. (2009). “Will Electronic Medical Records Improve Health Care?” Scientific American. Retrieved from http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=electronic-health-records on 2nd August 2013.