A few years ago I went back to school to earn a certificate in patient advocacy. I wanted to marry my experience of living with a chronic illness and my new degree with my love of writing to help others. The coursework was rigorous, fascinating and taught me not only the business side of advocacy but how to step into someone’s shoes with compassion and empathy.
(I believe I always had the ability to walk in someone else’s shoes, but this course widened my understanding of helping people whose situations I had no experience with.)
One of the topics our two-year course covered was the importance of electronic medical records (EMR) or electronic health records (EHR). The reason to implement EMR is so doctors and patients will have a way to electronically collect and store health data in a digital format that can be shared across connected networks. Stored data can include demographics, medical history, medications, allergies, immunizations, laboratory test results, radiology images, vitals, age and weight, and billing information.
No need to track down previous medical records
EMR systems are designed to accurately store data and eliminate the need to track down a patient’s previous medical records. Records would be conveniently located in one place. For example, if you find yourself at an emergency room the hospital staff can quickly log into the health record system to learn about your past medical history.
There have been problems fully implementing EMR including EMR medical errors, errors of omissions, errors of data analysis and incompatibility or different software systems.
There have also been major data and security breaches as well as privacy issues that have made EMR unpopular in the United States, Great Britain, and Germany.
In 2015 4.5 million health records were hacked at UCLA Medical Center.
I could go on with the list of problems putting EMR into practice.
Make life easier
My personal opinion is I wish EMR was in place nationwide. It would make life simpler for our community. Instead of being available only if you go to a hospital or treatment center that are within the same network, records would be made available to all networks.
No matter where you go your records would be easily accessible.
Most of you reading this go to as many doctors (or more!) than I do. Wouldn’t it be nice to have all your information located in one central location?
A few months ago I had to visit the good ol’ local ER. We recently moved so most of my doctors are still far away. After finishing the usual questions from the intake nurse they wanted a test performed that coincidentally I had the day before. I didn’t want to take it again. I pleaded with the nurse to find my test results via their computer system.
The response? They weren’t on the same network as my doctor’s office so my request was impossible.
Avoid stress from repeating tests
I was already feeling crappy, in terrible pain, overtired, and filled with anxiety. It takes a lot to get my dander up but it came. I got angry, complained about our backward healthcare system and explained how this stress was not doing my MS any good.
I could have yelled until I was blue in the face but their answer would remain the same.
I must have had an angel on my shoulder because at that moment a sweet, caring nurse walked in the room, tried to calm me down and held my hand. I explained the situation to her and somehow, some way, she got a hold of my test. Phew.
It would be nice to have electronic medical records implemented both statewide and nationwide. It would make life easier for all of us. Despite all the controversies and arguments against it, it simply makes good sense. For me, in that time and place in the ER, it could have spared me the extra angst I went through.
What are your thoughts on EMR?