The medical community recognizes the importance of technology and its benefits to healthcare. Healthcare informatics (HI) combines information technology and medicine to obtain, store, search, and use information efficiently (“What is health informatics?” n.d.). Technologies help quickly find patients’ medical histories, assess their condition, analyze the situation, and decide on treatment. As a result, HI positively affects patient outcomes as the information physicians need is readily available. The Internet in HI is necessary to quickly receive records, for example, in the case of an emergency, a patient moving, or reference to various departments (Iyengar et al., 2018). Moreover, the Internet provides opportunities for the interaction of doctors and patients: for appointments, reminders of treatment, and similar cases.
Electronic Health Records (EHR)
EHR is an electronic record of patients and their conditions, which previously existed in paper format. In addition to patient information in the document, EHRs provide access to decision-making tools (“What is an electronic,” 2019). EHRs first appeared in the 1960s but were very expensive, and only a few hospitals used them (“The history,” 2021). In the 1980s and 1990s, technology, including the Internet, became more accessible, which increased electronic records’ applications (“The history,” 2021). To implement the EHR system, hospitals invest resources in providing the institution with the necessary technologies, an agreement with the company that develops the system, testing, and personnel training (Aguirre et al., 2019). The implementation takes a long time for the system to work smoothly and provide the necessary benefits for the hospital.
EHR Benefits for Medical Practices
The EHR system implementation has advantages for employees of the institution. Records help to be organized as all necessary information is automatically structured (Upadhyay & Hu, 2022). Moreover, specialists can link records with relevant research and receive evidence for the best treatment. Compared with paper records, EHR saves time, makes information more readable, and allows sharing it with other specialists (Upadhyay & Hu, 2022). At the same time, electronic records remain secure as doctors use unique passwords to see them. Saved time, system convenience, and other benefits help employees focus and use the best data to improve the quality of their services. Consequently, EHR makes the work of medical providers more efficient, contributing to the patient’s safety.
EHR Benefits for Patients’ Safety
The quality of services enhanced by EHR positively affects patients’ safety and communication with providers. Doctors do not need to re-obtain the information available in the record from the patient and will not miss crucial medical history details (Kruse et al., 2018). If the patient needs help in another institution, not the usual one, such a function is valuable. Moreover, specialist access to patient information through EHR simplifies interdisciplinary collaboration. As a result, patient care is more comprehensive and effective. Decision support tools ensure patients receive the best treatment available (Upadhyay & Hu, 2022). EHR can also use reminders and alerts for doctors, reducing the risk of errors (Upadhyay & Hu, 2022). Thus, electronic records have significant advantages, but the associated concerns are also worth considering.
HR implementation is a complex process during which the hospital must consider many details. For this reason, there are concerns surrounding the system implementation and application. Some clinicians believe the EHR is very complex, distracts attention, and only slows the work (Kruse et al., 2018). Dependence on EHR is also a concern, as malfunctions create additional problems (Upadhyay & Hu, 2022). However, the institution can avoid these problems by choosing the best EHR supplier, which can provide support and develop an effective educational plan for personnel. Patients are often concerned about the safety of their data presented in the EHR since it is possible to hack the system (Iyengar et al., 2018). Although this area is new and complex, providers and policy-makers strive to protect privacy and confidentiality.
Confidentiality and protection of patient information
Protecting a patient’s privacy and confidentiality is critical for providers, as it establishes trust between them. Various laws protect patient data, such as the US Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) (Iyengar et al., 2018). Another current law is the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH Act) (Keshta & Odeh, 2021). Laws provide the basis for data protection, and EHR must have additional tools built into the system. They use encryption and access control through passwords, antivirus programs, and similar measures (Keshta & Odeh, 2021). Thus, EHR is constantly being improved to protect patient data.
Aguirre, R. R., Suarez, O., Fuentes, M., & Sanchez-Gonzalez, M. A. (2019). Electronic Health Record Implementation: A Review of Resources and Tools. Cureus, 11(9), 1-11. Web.
Iyengar, A., Kundu, A., & Pallis, G. (2018). Healthcare informatics and privacy. IEEE Internet Computing, 22(2), 29-31. 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.
The history of electronic health records (EHRs). (2021). Net Health. Web.
Upadhyay, S., & Hu, H. (2022). A qualitative analysis of the impact of electronic health records (EHR) on healthcare quality and safety: Clinicians’ lived experiences. Health Services Insights, 15, 1-7. Web.
What is an electronic health record (EHR)? (2019). HealthIT. gov. Web.
What is health informatics? (n.d.). Michigan Technological University. Web.