A. What is the issue?
An Electronic Health Record is a computerized form of a patient’s medical chart. These records allow information to be readily available to authorized providers during a patient’s encounter with the healthcare system. These systems do not only contain medical histories, current medications and insurance information, they also track patients’ diagnoses, treatment plans, immunization dates, allergies, radiology images and lab tests/results (source). The fundamental aspect of EHRs is that they are able to share a patient’s information quickly across service lines and even between different healthcare organizations. Information is at the fingertips of lab techs, primary care physicians, pharmacies, clinics, etc. The goal of EHR implementation is to drastically decrease the amount of preventable medical errors that occur each year.
Hospital medical errors are the third leading cause of death in America. In 2008, 400,000 people died resulting in a loss of $17.1 billion dollars (MacDonald, 2013). Such medical errors include misdiagnosis, unnecessary treatment, medication mistakes, uncoordinated care, infections, missed warning signs and early discharge. According to Leana Wen, M.D., these are the top 10 medical errors that can kill you in a hospital (Wen, 2013). With these staggering statistics, it is hard to believe that America’s healthcare system is among the top when compared to other developed countries. That is because it is not. The US is ranked 46 out of 50 when it comes to countries with the most efficient healthcare and ranked 25 out of 50 for countries with the highest life expectancy (“Most Efficient Health,” 2013). With these low quality outcomes and a push towards EHR adoption, one must ask, will Electronic Health Records be beneficial for hospitals’ and doctors’ staff, facilities and patients’ use?
B. What is being debated?
Electronic Health Systems are equipped with many features that are designed to reduce medical errors and help navigate patients through the healthcare system. One system that is worth looking at is the MedicsDocAssistant™ (MDA™). MDA™ supports many features such as alerts (“MedicsDocAssistant,”). Alerts will pop up on a provider’s screen letting them know that there is something wrong with the patient’s care. Alerts can range from prescription alerts, warning physicians of potential adverse drug effects or allergy complications, to alerts pertaining to clinical decisions regarding patient examinations, procedures and screenings that may be crucial. For example, the system will alert to the physician to remind female patients of a certain age to schedule a mammogram screening. The objectives of these alerts are to aid in properly diagnosing patients, identifying gaps in care, running appropriate tests as well as improving patient outcomes (“How EHR Alerts,” 2012).
Another beneficial feature of EHR systems is that they allow different authorized professionals to access your information...