This section provides a detailed research support base for the proposed solution. Healthcare administrators and government healthcare institutions acknowledge the importance of EMR in improving patient care through consolidated medical records and improved information sharing among clinicians. They believe that EMRs reduce human factors such as stress and fatigue which cause medication errors when not carefully handled. Research conducted by various agencies and individuals supports the adoption of electronic medical records within healthcare facilities to encourage collaboration, teamwork, and improve communication among healthcare professionals. As a result, communication barriers are eliminated and patient safety improved. EMRs fosters effective communication within healthcare facilities through synchronization of three levels; health care team, the hospital organization, and individuals.
Research Support for EMR Solution
Research conducted by O’Malley, Cohen, and Grossman (2010) investigating the effectiveness of EMR in healthcare communication found that effective communication is hindered by human factors such as stress, fatigue, levels of staff, personality, distractions and interruptions, and memory failures. When those factors are not handled carefully, they pose risks to patient safety. The study concluded that the use of EMRs can eliminate human factors that hinder effective communication among healthcare practitioners. Despite the human factors, it is rare for the physician to mistaken medication or the patient records while using the EMR system. The researchers also provided that despite EMR systems improving the quality of care, they can hinder interpersonal communication or face-to-face patient-physician conversation, which is crucial in healthcare. However, eliminating barriers to interpersonal communication would make EMRs effective.
Another research study conducted by Shachak et al (2009) found that electronic medical records (EMR) encourage interpersonal communication allowing healthcare professionals to enjoy the benefits of real-time, face-to-face, and phone conversation. This improves health care coordination, which enhances patient outcomes. Furthermore, EMR potentially supports patient-clinician and clinician-clinician communication through enhanced information sharing. In addition, the research found that primary care physicians believe EMR facilitates their communication with patients in many ways. Basically, electronic medical record gives clinicians direct access to patient information enabling them to concentrate on the patient. This saves them time they would spend searching for the information from bulky paper files during patient visits. On the same note, one physician denoted “we do not have to call down the hall for lab or test results; we spend more quality time in a more context-rich way” (Shachak et al, 2009, p. 346). In addition, other staff can pose questions to the physician through EMR instant messaging (IM) or deliver lab results through IM. This ensures that clinician-patient conversation is not interrupted, at least physically. However, the research concluded that only a few healthcare facilities have managed to adopt EMR because of financial constraints.
According to DesRoches et al (2008), electronic medical record systems facilitate information sharing, which improves coordination and collaboration among healthcare professionals. In addition, healthcare facilities using EMR appear to have lower costs and better care services. Research conducted on the use of EMR in ambulatory care revealed that hospitals utilizing EMR have improved patient care and controlled costs. Therefore, through electronic medical records, many costly medication errors, including prescription errors could be eliminated. This is achievable because EMR eliminates paper-based healthcare transactions making it easier for healthcare professionals to offer efficient services. Moreover, EMR systems allow clinicians to access patient information real-time, and thus, they make better decisions (DesRoches et al., 2008). In addition, the physician reported that financial barriers greatly affected the decisions of many healthcare facilities about adopting electronic medical records. In summary, EMR systems improve the quality of care and generally make physicians and patients satisfied.
DesRoches et al., (2008). Electronic health records in ambulatory care: A national survey of physicians. New England Journal of Medicine, 359 (1), 50-60.
O’Malley, Ann S., et al., (2010). Are electronic medical records helpful for care coordination? Experiences of physician practices. Journal of General Internal Medicine, 25 (3), 177-185.
Shachak, A, Hadas-Dayagi, M., Ziv, A., and Reis, S. (2009). Primary care physicians’ use of an electronic medical record system: A cognitive task analysis. Journal of General Internal Medicine, 24 (3), 341-348.