The Unintended Benefits of EMR

Across the country Medical Practitioners are making the transition from paper medical records to Electronic Medical Records, or EMR’s. There is disagreement amongst doctors regarding whether or not this system has benefits that outweigh paper records. For some, the cost alone is an unappealing factor. The Obama Administration has set 2014 as the deadline for conversion from paper records to EMR.

A standard EMR contains the following information:

Your name, birth date, blood type and emergency contact
Date of last physical
Dates and results of tests and screenings
Major illnesses and surgeries, with dates
A list of your medicines, dosages and how long you’ve taken them
Any allergies
Any chronic diseases
Any history of illnesses in your family

When an individual routinely sees the same healthcare provider, this information would not be hard to come by. However, in the instance that you are switching providers, or that you see a number of providers, it might be useful for each of those practitioners to have convenient access to full and complete records.

At Stanford University another benefit to the EMR system was discovered. Researchers found that EMR could be used to identify previously unknown drug interactions. They correctly identified that the drug interactions between an anti-depressant and cholesterol lowering drug raised blood sugar levels in diabetic patients – a population in whom blood sugar control is especially important.

The future possibilities for research are vast with EMR. The system is ideal for discovering patterns of reactions among patient populations. The Bastyr Center for Natural Health is slowly implementing EMR as part of their procedure which is an important step in preparing students to be able to use EMR systems upon graduation. The idea is still new, and the implications are still largely unknown; but as of now, it seems that EMR might be beneficial to both the medical community and patients.

References:
Stanford University, Scope Blog
Medline Plus, Person Health Records

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2 responses to “The Unintended Benefits of EMR

  1. How are electronic medical records utilized in the day to day interactions with patients? Ankush's dad is in radiology and he is able to use something where he can access patient records and x-rays on his iPad while he's at work, is this the same kind of thing? Or is it still on a computer, which a doctor would have to view before seeing the patient?I think it's pretty interesting :D

  2. Basically an EMR would be where information is 'charted' on a patient. With paper charts, the person who holds the chart is restricted to the information in the chart. With an EMR, any medical practitioner treating a patient (for example, in a hospital or team care setting) would have access to those charts and important information on how the patient is being care for, medications, allergies, history etc. I believe it has a lot of benefits and that this could be a major component in researching drug interactions, disease based on geographical location and demographics. I'm very interested in this!

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