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Recorded Live! – Implementation of EHRs around the world

In our previous posts we’ve been over the various benefits and challenges posed by Electronic Health Records (EHRs). The bottom line is that computers are here to help us. While there are a few things which would hold back certain people from using them, we need to accept the changes brought forth in the digital age. Like all digital changes, the quality of Electronic Health Records, too, can only improve with time.

Keeping this in mind, Duke University Health System (DUHS) has become the first provider to implement USA’s leading (EHR) system, with a whopping 223 outpatient facilities and Duke University Hospital now utilizing this state-of-the-art system.  Shelling out a staggering amount of $700 million for the EHR service by Epic Systems, USA, the new EHR enables Duke Medicine providers to communicate more effectively about shared patients with non-Duke providers throughout the state and country. Duke’s EHR allows the confidential and secure sharing of a patient’s health information between more than 180 health care institutions that utilize the same health records system. A new online portal accompanying the system allows patients to access test results and other information from the new health records system. Patients also can schedule appointments online, communicate with their physicians electronically, request prescription refills, and more.

It is not without foresight that the government of USA has paid more than $22.5 billion in incentives to doctors and hospitals to switch from paper to electronic health records. Boston-based Partners HealthCare, University of California, San Francisco are following suit. The US Veterans Affairs Department has released the first procurement for its next-generation electronic health record system, with a focus on support services for the Health Systems Informatics division of the Veterans Health Administration.

More recently, a robbery of over 800 medical records from a hospital in Connecticut, goes on to show how important EHRs can be when risks associated with paper copies of records are so high. Hartford’s Saint Francis Hospital announced last week that printed records carrying medical information of over 850 patients were stolen late in December. The stolen documents included names, dates of birth and medical record numbers of patients treated at the hospital. Data as sensitive as this can be disastrous if it finds its way into the wrongs hands. Terrorists, too, are on the lookout for personal data. Data theft is just a toned down version of identity theft.

Among the many reasons EHRs benefit patients and caregivers are improving privacy and security of patient data. EHRs also provide more coordination of health care services, improved patient safety, and lower waste and less risk for redundant tests. That means there is better diagnosis of patients and fewer errors.

Closer home in India, at a Continuing Medical Education meeting (CME) in Delhi this week, it was demonstrated how Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) can be prevented with the use of EHRs. Often neglected, EHRs can make a difference in the detection of DVT by providing clinical decision support on all risk factors. The government of India has already framed an extensive set of standards for EHRs in the Indian mainstream.

However, apprehension in India is more than in the developed countries. Patients are worried about conventional facial interaction between patients and doctors. Surveys have found that Indian patients still believe that a correct diagnosis isn’t possible without lengthy interviews between patients and doctors. However, EHRs simply reduce the time taken to diagnose an ailment while efficiently letting a doctor know something which might be missed otherwise. Another thing holding back India’s population is the number of internet users. Only 11.4 % people in India use the internet, a tiny fraction when compared to her population. Such setbacks will eventually be dispelled-slow and steady will get it done for India. As mentioned earlier, the digital age might take some time to settle in, but it is the reckoning of today’s world. Today’s fast paced world needs faster and efficient diagnostics along with security and confidentiality, and that can be provided only by EHRs.

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cloudchowk is a healthcare software company based out of Delhi. Its software help medical labs, clinics and patients share information and collaborate seamlessly.

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