The health care industry is always looking for ways to make patient care more effective and efficient. For years, patient records have been stored in manila folders, filed away on rows of shelves, making locating a file time consuming. With hundreds of patients entering and leaving a medical facility every day, retrieving and storing these records can result in misplaced records. In libraries, not all books are put back where they belong, either by accident or carelessness. The same applies to medical records. For this reason, by 2012, more than half of all medical facilities adopted electronic health record software to store patient information, and the remaining 50 percent plan to purchase it within the next year.
Electronic medical records software companies develop programs that house large amounts of data. Within the software, a hospital or health care facility can hold thousands of patient files that can be accessed easily with minimal patient information, such as a date of birth or social security number. The patient’s medical history, vaccinations, medications, and potential treatments can all be stored in one electronic file. An EHR system also allows doctors to enter notes about the patient during an appointment rather than leaving the handwritten notes for nurses to enter retroactively. This greatly reduces the chance for error and saves time, increasing a medical facility’s ability to see more patients per hour. In fact, about 6 percent of health care centers surveyed reported financial gains and profit from using EHR software.
With new procedures and patient needs always evolving, electronic medical records software companies will continue to find way to serve the publics with new programs. Every year, they need to make sure that the software is compliant with patient right and HIPAA regulations. Even though only about 66 percent of health care facilities use EHR software at the moment, a new 2014 provision of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 will require private and public medical facilities to implement electronic medical records or risk losing their existing Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement levels. These demands will likely make paper medical records obsolete and electronic medical records the only way to store patient information.