February 2021
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Electronic Medical Records More Prevalent Now

The medical industry has changed significantly over the past decade. One of the major changes is that many medical offices are moving from paper to electronic medical records. There are also a number of practice management software packages available to medical practitioners. This makes their lives easier, but what does it mean for patients? To understand the answer to that question, it is first important to understand what an electronic medical records system is.


Generally EMRs, electronic medical records, and EHRs, electronic health records, are synonymous. These systems keep track of medical information. These systems keep medical records stored in a central location so that they can be made available to pharmacies, specialists and other providers. What this means for the patient is that medical care is becoming more portable.


President Bush created the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) in 2004. This office was headed by David Brailer in the beginning. Brailer addressed interoperability issues and established a National Health Information Network (NHIN). Regional Health Information Organizations (RHIOs) have been established under the ONC in many states for the purpose of promoting the sharing of health information. Currently, Congress continues to create legislation to increase funding for these programs and programs like them.


Moving from paper systems to EMRs is a process that is still in the beginning stages within the medical community. It is a work in progress. Many concerns exist, and privacy is one of those concerns. While a moving to an EMR would potentially give many providers, pharmacists and other medical professionals access to a patient’s records, these records are kept very secure. The adoption of electronic medical  records systems is clearly what the future holds, from a technology as well as legislative standpoint. In the end, the patient benefits because it is easier to fill prescriptions, transfer records and receive consistent care than with paper systems.


While the public and the medical community waits for all paper records to be transferred to EMRs, there is an online resource available to help patients manage their own health records and be proactive about their healthcare. According to Google, Google Health “puts you in charge of your health information.” The service, which is safe, secure and free, enables patients to “organize all health information in one place,” “gather medical records from doctors, hospitals and pharmacies,” “keep doctors up-to-date about your health,” and “be more informed about important health issues.” This is all part of a larger trend in which patients are becoming more pro-active in managing their health.


As medical records systems continue to move from paper to electronic, look for the ability of systems to communicate with each other to also become important.  As the patient, you will benefit because of the portability of electronic health records and you will no doubt benefit from the increased continuity-of-care that they can offer.

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