From a hospital administrator’s view, the introduction of an electronic medical records (EMR) system may seem daunting. However, the $14.6 billion in federal grant funding aims to make this conversion to digital records management less painful for hospitals.
HITECH mandated that hospitals must provide evidence of EMR system conversion for 80% of patients in order to receive further grant funding.
As the adoption of electronic medical records continues, it is important that healthcare providers convert to digital records management, to benefit both the patient and the healthcare provider.
Here are some of the benefits of converting to electronic medical records from several perspectives
Benefits of EMR to the patient:
- The transfer of medical records between offices is less time-consuming and much more efficient.
- Hospital stays are reduced with more efficient processes and automatic routing of medical information.
- Fewer mistakes are made that could affect patient care since patient information can be easily accessed and stored from any department, hospital, or practice.
Benefits of EMR to the healthcare provider:
- Processing medical records electronically allows businesses to move faster and function more efficiently, reducing administrative costs.
- Storing patient records electronically is significantly less expensive than storing and securing records onsite or utilizing an offsite medical storage facility.
- Immediate access to patient information reduces the opportunity for medical errors, minimizing the chance of affecting patient care.
- Increased Compliance to HIPAA, FACTA, HITECH, and other state and local laws and regulations.
Unfortunately, some healthcare providers are not adopting technology as quickly as others and this can have negative implications. For example, resisting conversion to electronic medical records may reduce the healthcare provider’s credibility from the consumer’s viewpoint.
How A Healthcare Provider Can Use EMRs to Increase Consumer Confidence
The modern, notepad-toting physician has instant access to all of the patient’s medical details. In comparison, the physician that is writing notes on a paper chart may appear outdated to young adults.
What steps can be taken to update the healthcare provider’s office technology and avoid a loss of consumer confidence?
Step 1: Train healthcare provider support staff to scan and shred medical records
• Office support staff may be able to help scan and shred documents. This will require time and money. FACTA compliance requires that all office support staff have ongoing training to manage the document destruction.
• Once the office support staff is trained in proper document destruction, the process of document scanning and destruction can be very lengthy and could lower the quality of other work if not properly managed. This could lead to critical mistakes in other areas of the healthcare provider’s practice.
Step 2: Hire a professional service to scan and shred documents
• A professional scanning service will provide secure processing and shredding of medical records, and provide you with a Certificate of Destruction for your records.
• Professionals ensure HIPAA and FACTA compliance when converting to an EMR system.
• Contracting with professionals is also more efficient and cost-effective than training support staff in document scanning and medical record disposal.
Although healthcare providers have been slow to adopt electronic medical records, the continuing trend towards this faster, more efficient business model is here. The physicians eager to embrace this technology will be at the forefront of their industry with fewer record-related errors and better service.