Electronic Health Records: Usefulness, Strengths, and Limitations

Electronic health records (EHRs) are a relatively well-tested method of keeping medical records that are reported to have multiple benefits. In particular, recent evidence suggests that EHRs are somewhat likely to improve specific quality outcomes. Such outcomes include advanced continuity of care, better guideline adherence, and more efficient and time-efficient care, which, in turn, results in positive physical and psychological consequences for patients (Campanella et al., 2016; Kruse & Beane, 2018). In addition, this technology is reported to cause decreases in medication errors (Campanella et al., 2016), which is especially important for patient safety. Thus, EHRs are likely to be a very significant step in improving care; they are handy for medical institutions.

The primary strengths of EHRs are concerned with them being a technologically advanced method of record keeping. As a result, they have enhanced exchange opportunities and better data preservation potential due to backups and legibility (Atasoy, Greenwood, & McCullough, 2018; Kruse & Beane, 2018). However, EHRs are linked to multiple challenges and difficulties, which may reduce the likelihood of them being helpful. In fact, when discussing the advantages of EHRs, Campanella et al. (2016) highlight the significance of appropriate implementation; if an EHR is not implemented well, it might not have positive results. The factors that impact the success of implementing EHRs are numerous (Kruse, Kothman, Anerobi, & Abanaka, 2016). Based on the relevant research, it is essential to plan and execute EHR implementation carefully, with attention paid to user training.

Moreover, EHRs cannot be considered infallible; they may be prone to particular issues that are EHR- or technology-specific. For example, the study by Carayon et al. (2017) focused on the errors that EHRs can produce. The article shows that while EHRs are generally reported to prevent certain types of medication errors, they can also cause other ones, including duplicate orders. Similarly, just like any technology, EHRs may be associated with technical and security or privacy difficulties (Atasoy et al., 2018). Thus, EHRs have their limitations and even possible disadvantages. A specialist who focuses on implementing EHRs needs to keep them in mind and adjust the adoption strategy to prevent as many issues as possible and respond to the challenges to ensure the improvement of patient safety and care quality.

References

Atasoy, H., Greenwood, B., & McCullough, J. (2018). The digitization of patient care: A review of the effects of electronic health records on health care quality and utilization. Annual Review of Public Health, 40(1), 1-14. Web.

Campanella, P., Lovato, E., Marone, C., Fallacara, L., Mancuso, A., Ricciardi, W., & Specchia, M. L. (2016). The impact of electronic health records on healthcare quality: A systematic review and meta-analysis. The European Journal of Public Health, 26(1), 60-64. Web.

Carayon, P., Du, S., Brown, R., Cartmill, R., Johnson, M., & Wetterneck, T. (2017). EHR-related medication errors in two ICUs. Journal of Healthcare Risk Management, 36(3), 6-15. Web.

Kruse, C., & Beane, A. (2018). Health information technology continues to show a positive effect on medical outcomes: Systematic review. Journal of Medical Internet Research, 20(2), e41. Web.

Kruse, C., Kothman, K., Anerobi, K., & Abanaka, L. (2016). Adoption factors of the electronic health record: A systematic review. JMIR Medical Informatics, 4(2), e19. Web.

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