You’ve probably noticed your doctor interacting with another face in the examination room during your visit: a computer screen. Rather than jotting down notes in a paper file, the doc is building an electronic patient record of your health.
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Electronic Medical Records (EMR) put patients’ records at the fingertips of medical professionals who need them so they can give you the best care. EMR is more efficient than pushing paper—information gets where it needs to go faster, and records can be shared safely and easily. Also, EMR is highly secure, and electronic records can be used in a hospital to make sure patient care goes smoothly.
For example, if you call your doctor with a question, your records can be quickly referenced so you can get the answers you need. Plus, EMR provides peace of mind that no matter where you are, and what the circumstances, doctors can give you the best care based on your medical history. If you are admitted to a hospital while you are out of town, a doctor can access your medical history via EMR to make critical decisions for your health.
Already, about 40 percent of primary care doctors and 25 percent of hospitals, including Cleveland Clinic, use EMR. Thousands more are joining the ranks. EMR is the way of the future, and hospitals can also tap technology to ensure they are delivering consistent, quality care.
At Cleveland Clinic, Umesh N. Khot, M.D., quality officer at the Miller Family Heart & Vascular Institute, and associates wanted to learn more about how EMR can help patients get the highest standard of care. A project was launched where EMR was used to scan heart attack and heart failure diagnoses. “The project focused on the quality of EMR: How can we collect pertinent patient information and use it for the patient’s benefit?” Dr. Khot says.
With EMR, Cleveland Clinic staff could make sure that all treatment protocols were properly followed in real-time. On paper, this process could take up to three months.
Essentially, EMR is a tremendous effort in “going paperless,” and it will make doctors visits and following up with doctors easier for you. Plus, the efficiencies put into play ultimately save money for everyone involved: hospitals, insurance providers and patients.
So next time you see a doctor, ask about how EMR is changing their practice and what you can expect now that your patient records are being filed on a computer. Talk to him or her about your concerns, and rest assured that your EMR is even more secure than stacks of paper being transferred along the continuum of care.