Achieving Patient Safety with EMRs

signPatient safety in many ways means that physicians have the required information in front of them when needed, so that they can deliver quality care. This means instantant access to the information that is relevant to services provided in a format that is customized for usability, while ensuring privacy and confidentiality of patient health information.

A recent survey cited poor communication, such as exchanging important clinical information about patients as the largest barrier to achieving patient safety goals. And despite the fact that Electronic Medical Records are an effective tool to improve the exchange of clinical data and, in turn, quality.

According to the mentioned survey, respondents were asked how often important patient care information is lost during shift changes. A major 56% answered always; often 12%. Only 27% said it rarely happens while a mere 5% said it never happens.

EMRs are an effective solution to problems such as communications. Electronic data does not get lost when it’s mixed in with the take-out menu pile and it doesn’t get ruined when someone spills coffee on it.

It is pertinent to note that many safety issues could be avoided or minimized with an extra minute or so of one-on-one communication. However, communication issues still pose a fundamental challenge for healthcare. Thousands of individuals are involved in patient care.

The inconsistency of choice among the vendors of EMRs has lead to complexity.  Data sharing between different EMR systems is often limited and merely available in a read-only format. Whereas, if a single EMR system (database) is used by a multitude of providers, such limitations can be overcome. Consistent backing of EMR adoption by the U.S government aims to propel healthcare information exchange into a new era.

Electronic Medical Records have the capability to improve communications along with the quality of care. EMR vendors continue to strive towards developing a system which provides comprehensive safeguards for the protection of patient information.


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Frank Quinn

The writer is a leading Health IT analyst contributing regularly on some of the most pressing topics like Electronic Health Records, Practice Management, eRx, Patient Portal, Billing Services, Compliance and Privacy and Security. For more information, contact Frank at [email protected] More posts by Author

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