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Stephen O'Connor

By: Stephen O'Connor on July 19th, 2012

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Electronic Health Records: Keeping Patient Records Safe

Electronic Health Records


Electronic Health Records (EHR) have revolutionized the way that physicians interact with their patients and other health care providers. The adaptation of digital patient records has eliminated the notorious 'paper-chasing' that is all too common in both private practice and hospital settings.

EHR give providers instant access to all of their patient files, including lab results and files from adjunct providers, leading to the elimination of care fragmentation and service duplication. Along with helping physicians provide better quality care to their patients, EHRs ensure that medical records are always accessible and protected from loss or damage -- a critical element in the provision of timely, efficient care.

Why The U.S. Surgeon General Adopted EHRs

One of the most poignant examples of why digital health records are essential to every medical practice is the story of Dr. Regina Benjamin's Bayou La Batre health clinic in rural Alabama, as published in the July 13, 2010 New England Journal of Medicine.  [http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMp1007785].

Dr. Benjamin's clinic was hit by both Hurricane's George and Katrina, flooding the paper-based patient records. After spending countless days painstakingly drying out all the files, Dr. Benjamin's clinic was hit with a final, devastating tragedy: a fire that leveled the building in 2006, taking with it decades of patient health records.

This motivated Dr. Benjamin, the current Surgeon General of the United States, to make the shift from paper based records to EHR. The patient files at the Bayou Clinic are now protected from floods and fires, and the staff is able to provide services to their patients both at the clinic and at makeshift clinics during evacuations without compromising the quality of care.

The Future of Electronic Health Records

The Obama administration has made a clear stance in favor of Electronic Health Records with the provision of federal incentive payments to physicians, clinics, and hospitals to help fund the transition to paperless patient records. EHR have been proven to help physicians reduce patient wait times, expedite diagnosis, and minimize prescription errors, leading to improved safety for both the providers and the patients.

Key Takeaways:

  • EHRs give providers instant access to all their patient files.
  • The use of EHR can help protect patient files against disasters.
  • The Obama administration has made a clear stance in favor of EHRs.

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*Photo courtesy of www.freedigitalimages.net

About Stephen O'Connor

As a Director of Digital Marketing at Advanced Data Systems Corporation, Stephen spends his day's planning, writing, & designing resources for the modern healthcare professional. He has a strong affinity for snow crab legs, the ocean, and Rutgers Football.