The proliferation of electronic medical records has, in many ways, benefited the health care industry. In theory, these sophisticated systems provide a centralized location for medical professionals to access and update patient information, instantaneously making data available to all of the patient’s providers. These systems can lower costs and reduce opportunities for error.
But are these systems safe?
Truth be told, the advent of new records systems has challenged many health care facilities and led to devastating complications, such as:
- Decreased efficiency. As professionals attempt to learn complex new medical records programs, they can lose valuable time with their patients. Red tape can slow down critical patient care processes.
- Medication errors. Typos and other similar discrepancies can cause deadly mistakes in the types and amounts of medications dispensed to patients.
- Incompatibilities. Facilities that use different types of electronic medical records can have compatibility issues when sending patient information back and forth with partner hospitals and doctors officers.
- Fraudulent billing. Computers generate an increasing number of medical bills; providers can more easily add confusing line items on purpose that increase insurance payments.
- Downtime. When electronic records systems crash, health care facilities must scramble to use alternate databases – or paper records – until they come back online. The time spent reconciling these two methods can be considerable.
Clearly, electronic medical records systems can benefit patients, doctors and hospitals. But we cannot ignore the possible adverse effects of these systems. Health care facilities and providers must work together to improve their functionality, reliability, and compatibility to keep patients safe.