A push for the digitization of patient medical records is driving increased efficiency and quality of care in healthcare organizations around the world. An electronic system not only gives medical providers easier accessibility to and sharing of files, but also aids in accelerating insight that can drive better decision-making.
Medical organizations will increasingly be required to convert patient records to an electronic format in order to maintain compliance with ever-tightening regulations and avoid penalties. Public Service UK reported that Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has devised a strategy to make the National Health Service (NHS) paperless by 2015. The objective is not only to have all patient records digitized, but also to make these files available to all units within the NHS by 2018 in order to meet care demands in the face of budget cuts.
By switching to electronic medical records (EMRs), there are limitless possibilities for improving healthcare quality, as long as this information is made more easily and widely available to providers. A survey by the news source revealed that more than half of chief executives, directors and managers in the healthcare industry believe that greater data availability would make them more productive in the workplace, while nearly 40 percent stated they faced inadequate access to information.
Centralized data management
A major obstacle to giving staff access to data is siloed systems for storing information, which causes delayed reactions that threaten providers' ability to properly treat patients. Public Service UK reported that without an effective electronic document management system, employees struggle to share files that exist in diverse locations and in different formats. By eliminating these barriers to data sharing, providers could focus more on actually attending to patients and monitoring conditions, which is particularly important for high-risk patients.
Conversely, a unified data management system ensures that data analysis is based on up-to-date information extracted directly from digitized records and is made readily available to doctors. This ensures that decision-making is based on accurate evidence for more successful treatment programs. Cleveland Live reported that The Cleveland Clinic and University Hospitals have recently signed on to make patients' electronic medical histories, treatment programs, medications and other information more accessible to other providers within the network through an online portal. According to the news source, the long-term goal is to get enough health agencies, hospitals, doctors and insurance companies to participate in the electronic database so that 80 percent of Ohio citizens' records are available in the system.
Healthcare organizations can save time and reduce risks for error by digitizing health records. An electronic system ensures that information is up-to-date and available to professionals in real-time, when they need them.
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