Digitization improves health record accessibility, accuracy

March 5th, 2013 | Posted by Kevin Corley in Document and Information Capture | Document Management

Healthcare organizations are increasingly adopting an electronic document management system to provide doctors and clinicians with easier access to patient files for quicker, more accurate decisions.

Forbes reported that five major providers of electronic medical records (EMRs) have united under the CommonWell Health Alliance (CHA) with the objective of making electronic records easier to share from one health system to another. Neil Patterson, founder, chairman and chief executive of Cerner, explained that the initiative aims to capitalize on new opportunities to enhance healthcare with technology by empowering medical professionals with more patient information.

"We're digitizing the content of an entire industry by automating the electronic health record," he stated, according to Forbes. "Without a national ID and the ability to create true data that can be be safely and securely sent between individuals, we are going to introduce new systemic risk back into the system."

Janet Marchibroda, director of the center's Health Innovation Initiative, was optimistic about how these efforts can unlock new value in electronic records.

"I think it's a significant step forward for health care technology companies to work together in facilitating exchange," she explained to Forbes.

Additionally, Forbes reported that due to a 2009 law that created incentives for digitization, organizations are increasingly adopting EMRs to allow for new database search capabilities.

Minimizing mistakes
Searchability is a major advantage to an electronic system, which has already demonstrated immense advantages for doctors and researchers looking to improve diagnoses. A study conducted by JAMA International Medicine revealed that researchers were able to track 190 diagnostic errors made by primary care physicians between a Veterans Affairs facility and a large integrated private health care system over the course of a year. Errors included misdiagnosis of pneumonia, congestive heart failure, kidney failure, cancer and other diseases, and researchers determined that the majority of these mistakes could have resulted in moderate to severe harm.

An overwhelming 78.9 percent of these errors were caused by a communication breakdown between providers and patients, while other causes ranged from patient-related factors to poor follow-up and tracking of data. In response to these findings, the study recommended using EMRs to reduce the frequency of these errors. Researchers further explained that EMRs have the potential to advance knowledge about conditions that are at high risk for being overlooked in primary care.

Transitioning to an electronic system with intelligent capture capabilities can ensure a more complete patient record, allowing providers to optimize courses of treatment.

Brought to you by Image One Corporation providing complete information governance since 1994.

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