Getting With the Program: The Importance of EMR/EHRs

Medical Staffing

Hiring the most capable and organized Medical Records Specialist for your practice is important. An integral member of your staff, they enter, monitor, and organize medical records, ensuring accuracy, efficiency, and smooth communication between patients, doctors, and insurance companies. In the digital age, however, even the most capable workers are only as good as the various software and systems they work with on a day to day basis.

There are two kinds of software used for storing patient information: Electronic Medical Records (EMRs), and Electronic Health Records (EHRs). While sometimes thought of interchangeably, there is a slight, however important difference in their functions and capability:

Electronic Medical Records (EMRs): EMRs were the first programs of their kind. These digital databases effectively replaced the paper charts in the physician’s office, and are generally regarded for a patient’s diagnoses and treatment history at one particular practice (hence the word “medical”). They track a patient’s data over time, like blood pressure readings and vaccinations, and when they are due for screenings and checkups. The main issue with these program is that the information stored does not travel easily outside the main practice. Physicians must often rely on faxing and snail-mail to get a patient’s information to a specialist.

Electronic Health Records (EHRs): According to some, EHRs are fast becoming the standard of medical records keeping and sharing. The operative term here is “Health”, which covers a much broader territory than “Medical.” These were designed to facilitate the sharing information with other healthcare providers, labs, and specialists—everyone involved in a patient’s care. With EHRs, all members of a care team have ready access to the latest information allowing for more coordinated, patient-centered care. A patient can even log on to his own record and see the trend of his lab results.

In the 21st century, most medical professionals utilize at least one of these program types, and if they do not, should start immediately. The advantages over the old filing cabinet system are numerous, and obvious. However, out of an effort to cut costs there are many private practices, and even hospitals, using outdated, or “legacy” programs to store and maintain patient information. In a high-stress, and constantly changing environment, records specialists, and even trained medical staff are forced to use various “workarounds” to compensate for the inherent flaws, and constant hiccups in these old programs. The result? A higher margin for error, disrupted workflow and efficiency, frustration and dissatisfaction among staff, and a general breakdown in the quality of care.

On the best of days, no one likes dealing with insurance companies, or the reality of medical bills. But what if a patient’s insurance information was somehow deleted, or misinterpreted? What if their insurance provider did not receive accurate information, or on a proper timeline? What if payment was made, but not properly processed because of a glitch in an old system? No one wants to be billed for anything twice. More importantly, what if an allergy is left out from a patient’s updated records, or the deep history of diabetes in their family? While the former kinds of errors can frustrating and inconvenient for everyone involved, the latter can actually be life-threatening.

A program that stores patient records, prognoses, billing, and insurance information must be up to date, interoperable, and easy to use. In the medical profession, investing in people is paramount. The right people on the frontline of caring, whatever their role may be, ensures that patients will receive the highest quality individual care, while fostering trust and satisfaction. When staring at the yearly budget, many see a proposed upgrade in database software as an easy corner to cut. But the very real truth is that investing in the implementation of modern, functional database software can ensure that that the frontline on which medical professionals operate does not falter.


Brian Torchin

| HCRC Staffing | |