Electronic Health Records: Advantages and Disadvantages

Introduction

Electronic Health Records (EHRs) are digital versions of patient medical information, which are maintained by a health provider. EHRs provide the patient health details to other health care providers in an easy way. Most health care providers have switched from paper-based systems to the use of EHRs. This is because electronic health records offer potential benefits in terms of clinical, organizational, and societal outcomes. However, there are potential drawbacks which include privacy concerns, maintenance costs, and initial acquisition costs. This paper will discuss the advantages and disadvantages of electronic health records.

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Advantages of EHRs

Electronic health records improve the quality of care for patients. This is because a patient’s note that is kept digitally is easier to read when compared to handwritten notes. This ensures that there are no errors due to misinterpretations that can adversely affect the quality of care. Errors due to mistakes when interpreting notes are common in the hospital (Kruse et al., 2018). The faults impact the health of patients which affects the quality of care. Adoption of digital record-keeping is important as it will help health care providers reduce mistakes. Health care providers have to always seek new ways of ensuring they improve the quality of care for their patients.

EHRs enhance the convenience and efficiency of service delivery at health care centers. The use of digital records reduces the time employees take to retrieve records (Elharish et al., 2021). Hospitals are moving away from paper-based systems because of the time that is wasted sorting and retrieving the paper records. This affects the quality-of-service delivery because patients spend more time accessing care. EHRs enhance the efficiency of service., which saves time for both the service provider and the patient. Easy access to health records ensures that the productivity of workers increases which is beneficial to health centers.

The use of EHRs reduces costs and saves space, which can be used for other services, such as storage of medical equipment. Paper-based systems occupy huge spaces within the health center which may prove problematic as the organization grows (Meirte et al., 2020). Organizations with a high number of clients have to adopt digital records because they save space. The created space may be repurposed in a way that suits the health care provider. Duplication of testing occurs when physicians are not aware of the patient’s earlier health information (Elharish et al., 2021). The reduction in duplication of testing and use of paperwork reduces costs for health care providers.

EHRs help improve client management and reduce the staffing needs at the health facility. Health care providers can use the digital record system to send patient reminders for certain issues such as medication refill and doctors’ appointments (Kruse et al., 2018). The use of EHRs also increases the likelihood of reimbursements because it is easy to countercheck. The adoption of digital record systems reduces the need to hire employees to handle the paperwork. Reducing the staffing needs saves time and costs for the organization, which can be invested in other activities.

The use of electronic health records enhances access to information for the patient. Electronic record systems provide a patient with portals where they can access their information. This saves time for patients and increases transparency between patients and their physicians (Meirte et al., 2020). Easy access to information can enhance patient satisfaction which is a positive thing for health care facilities (Meirte et al., 2020). The use of EHRs also offers financial incentives to health care providers. This is because facilities that adopt digital records are eligible for incentives from the federal government. The eligibility has is centered on meeting the Medicare and Medicaid Meaningful Use requirements.

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Disadvantages of EHRs

One of the disadvantages of the use of electronic health records is the potential for privacy invasion and security issues. Digital systems are vulnerable to cyberattacks from malicious people, such as hackers (Keshta Odeh, 2021). Patient health information may be used for different reasons, including research, which means that it should be well protected. There have been increasing reports of cyberattacks targeting important systems. Unethical health care providers who have access to the systems may edit information in the system or delete some of the records (Keshta Odeh, 2021). This can create mistakes and in some cases the need to repeat tests because initial data was lost. Health care centers must enhance the security of the digital record systems to reduce the chances of malicious people accessing the data.

There are chances that due to lack of updating the data provided to doctors and nurses maybe inaccurate. Patient health records have to be updated every time patients visit the hospital. This reduces the chances of mistakes when diagnosing or treating the patient. However, in some cases, the records may not be updated immediately as a result of negligence or lack of enough staff. Failure to update the records immediately will lead to doctors and nurses accessing the wrong information (Meirte et al., 2020). Hospitals can solve this by increasing the staff working at the record department to ensure all information is recorded and stored. Hospitals can also require nurses to input test information immediately after the results are out.

EHR systems require a health care facility to invest both time and money. The migration from a paper-based system requires time and may take years to finalize. The development of the system requires capital from the organization. The system features an organization needs determines the budget to be used. After development, the organization has to invest in training the staff on how to handle the new system. This may take time as employees may find the system complicated which means that more training is needed. The costs involved in switching to a new system and training the employees may affect the finances negatively (Meirte et al., 2020). The switch may create confusion which may affect the diagnosis and treatment of patients. As more companies develop electronic records systems, there is a likelihood of the prices reducing, which may be beneficial to health centers.

The use of EHRs increases the chances of liability concerns from patients and regulatory agencies. When physicians fail to use all the medical data at their disposal, they may be held liable. During the implementation of the electronic systems, the management should ensure that all the medical data are accounted for (Beskow et al., 2019). Loss of any medical record may create inconsistencies that may affect the treatment and diagnosis of patients. The ease of access to medical records by patients may create panic, which may have detrimental results (Beskow et al., 2019). Patients may be unable to interpret the information presented in the medical health information form due to a lack of medical knowledge. This may create misunderstandings, which may lead to a patient taking inappropriate actions.

The use of EHRs increases the work that employees have to do at the workplace. Nurses have to complete charts, carry out tests, enter the results and handle patients’ emails (Elharish et al., 2021). This creates a problem because nurses will spend less time with their patients. It increases the chances of burnout, which can affect the productivity of employees. The increased work may result in the organization hiring new employees to ensure work is completed on time. Recruiting new employees increases the administrative costs, which may affect other aspects of the health care facility.

Conclusion

In summary, electronic health records are useful because they improve the quality of care for patients. They enhance the convenience and efficiency of service delivery which saves time. EHRs save space that can be used for other organizational purposes such as storing medical equipment. One of the main disadvantages of EHRs is the potential privacy and security concerns as a result of cyberattacks. It is costly to set up an EHR system as it requires regular maintenance to avoid security lapses.

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References

Beskow, L. M., Brelsford, K. M., & Hammack, C. M. (2019). Patient perspectives on the use of electronic health records for research recruitment. BMC Medical Research Methodology, 19(1), 1-14. Web.

Elharish, S. F. Denna, I., M. Maatuk, A., & K. Elberkawi, E. (2021). Application of electronic health records in polyclinics: barriers & benefits. in International Conference on Data Science, E-learning and Information Systems 2021 (pp. 40-46). Web.

Keshta, I., & Odeh, A. (2021). Security and privacy of electronic health records: Concerns and challenges. Egyptian Informatics Journal, 22(2), 177-183. Web.

Kruse, C. S., Stein, A., Thomas, H., & Kaur, H. (2018). The use of electronic health records to support population health: A systematic review of the literature. Journal of Medical Systems, 42(11), 1-16. Web.

Meirte, J., Hellemans, N., Anthonissen, M., Denteneer, L., Maertens, K., Moortgat, P., & Van Daele, U. (2020). Benefits and disadvantages of electronic patient-reported outcome measures: A systematic review. JMIR Perioperative Medicine, 3(1), e15588. Web.

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NerdyRoo. (2022, October 12). Electronic Health Records: Advantages and Disadvantages. Retrieved from https://nerdyroo.com/electronic-health-records-advantages-and-disadvantages/

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"Electronic Health Records: Advantages and Disadvantages." NerdyRoo, 12 Oct. 2022, nerdyroo.com/electronic-health-records-advantages-and-disadvantages/.

1. NerdyRoo. "Electronic Health Records: Advantages and Disadvantages." October 12, 2022. https://nerdyroo.com/electronic-health-records-advantages-and-disadvantages/.


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NerdyRoo. 2022. "Electronic Health Records: Advantages and Disadvantages." October 12, 2022. https://nerdyroo.com/electronic-health-records-advantages-and-disadvantages/.

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NerdyRoo. (2022) 'Electronic Health Records: Advantages and Disadvantages'. 12 October.

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