In the US, the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) reported that EMR adoption rates “have been slower than expected in the United States, especially in comparison to other industry sectors and other developed countries. A key reason, aside from initial costs and lost productivity during EMR implementations, is lack of efficiency and usability of EMRs currently available.”
In the United Kingdom, medical records have been computerized for years and the UK is “probably one of the world leaders in this field” according to General Practitioner to General Practitioner (GP2GP). For example, by April 2014 Scottish doctors were required to offer patients the ability to go online to book appointments, order repeat prescriptions and access their medical health records.
Canada, as we blogged (“Are We Losing the EMR Race?”) previously, is trailing the pack. Is this something we should be ashamed of or embraced as an opportunity to evaluate the pros and cons of the current system in order to find a better way forward?
The positive aspects of an EMR system are almost logical. The ability for health care providers to call up key patient health information in a crisis could be the difference between life and death for someone injured in a car accident being triaged in a hospital emergency room.
There are also some less obvious pros like:
- Decreased errors – large hospitals and institutions have reported reductions in prescription and note errors previously due to physician’s poorly legible handwriting
- Better patient follow up – digital reminders ensure that patients don’t miss appointments which has been shown to improve a physician’s ability to catch disease in its earliest stages
Conversely, there are also a few less publicized cons which are:
- Interoperability – incompatibility between different software programs or systems when communicating data is becoming a problem
- EMR costs born primarily by clinic physicians – there is little return on investment for the smaller practitioner as current maintenance, training and upgrade costs eat into any return on the initial cost outlay incurred to implement the system
- Information security – with the hacking of many large institutional databases, questions are being raised about the safety of our private health records
This is by no means a complete list. A full analysis of the EMR systems, their benefits and their drawbacks, is integral if we are ever to successfully more forward in the development and adoption of a healthy EMR system.
It isn’t that the EMR systems in countries like the UK were running smoothly from the beginning. Their initial missteps cost UK taxpayers, “over 24 Billion dollars and is considered one of the most expensive healthcare IT failures”, according to The Guardian.
But one thing that we do know is that EMR’s are here to stay.
For a better EMR system, contact SageTea Software – the next generation of EMR programs created by and for physicians.