Electronic Medical Record

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Exploring Innovation Media Article:  Electronic Medical Record

The Electronic Medical Record (EMR) is a technology-based platform for the dissemination and storage of patient medical charts and records. Hand-written paper charting of the care notes is on the opposite end of the spectrum when compared to the EMR. There are advantages and disadvantages to any type of EMR (Williams, F., & Boren, S, 2008).

The EMR is quickly streamlining and transforming the documentation of patient care within the health care environment. Scalability, interoperability, compatibility, and usability are the for features of the EMR that of key importance. Scalability references the ability of the EMR to grow with a health system, be it a corporate system, or a government system. If an EMR is not able to grow then it will hamper the dissemination of information across the system. Interoperability is the functionality of the EMR to communicate with other systems such as laboratory or radiology results reporting, even competing EMR systems. Compatibility is the ability of the software with hardware devices such as PCs, laptops, tablets, etc. Usability refers to how intuitive the software is to the end user.

There are several major players within the USA when it comes to EMR systems; EPIC, CureMD EHR, athenaOne, Cerner Power Chart, and others. Interoperablity across healthcare networks is crucial to maintaining quality patient care and communication between health care providers (Dugar, D., 2021). Epic focuses on communication with other facilities using Epic through collaborative agreements. While this a great stride towards increasing information access across the nation, and increasing overall effectiveness of the EMR, it still falls short. The lack of easy access to a person’s medical records no matter where they choose to treat is an area where the US Health system falls short. There are three levels of health system EMR interoperability: Foundational, Structural, and Semantic (ASC Communications, 2015).

Foundational is the most basic level, such as the ability to scan in hard copies of charts received from other institutions or upload digital PDF documents of the same. Structural interoperability is the allowance of data to flow unaltered through the system, such as lab results from the lab instrument software to a display in the EMR system. Semantic Interoperability is the most complex and where the multiple vendors for EMR systems fall short, and that is the ability for data to transfer seamlessly from one vendor’s software to another (Quinn, M., et al., 2019).

Unified semantic interoperability would mean the world to healthcare practitioners within the USA. This would likely require a sort of intermediary software or centralized data repository from which all EMR systems could upload and download data. This is an innovation that is lacking within the healthcare marketplace, and quite frankly, as much as we need it, I don’t foresee it ever becoming a reality. To have such a repository would require each vendor to upload the data from their software in a common/neutral “language” so to speak, so that competing vendor software would be able to read it. This data sharing could speed up diagnostic processes, reduce medical errors when patients need to treat with multiple care systems, alleviate unknowns and challenges for health care practitioners seeing patients that travel (Quinn, M., et al., 2019). The innovation would also have significant benefits in reducing medical costs across the country due to a variety of impacts, such as reduction in unnecessary diagnostics, reduction in medical errors, and so forth. There would be impacts toward government sponsored programs such as the VA, and the Veteran’s Choice programs, as they would also benefit from the data repository. There are many patient safety concerns that could be resolved by this, as well as an easier time to identify patient concerns such as opoid dependence through “doctor shopping,” or other factious disorders.

The innovation of a unified data repository for EMR data would be welcomed by healthcare practitioners nationwide. There are some challenges that will need to be overcome to reach consensus between EMR vendors, as well as the government, to develop this innovation. If someone is able to overcome these challenges and create such a data repository, all would benefit from it.

 References

ASC Communications. (2015, October 26). Mother Jones piece hits Epic hard: 5 criticisms of the EHR vendor. Retrieved from Becker’s Health IT and CIO Report: https://www.beckershospitalreview.com/healthcare-information-technology/mother-jonespiece-hits-epic-hard-5-criticisms-of-the-ehr-vendor.html

Dugar, D. (2021). Top EMR Systems List for 2021. Retrieved from SelectHub: https://www.selecthub.com/medical-software/popular-emr-ehr-software-list/

Linde, J. (2020, September 30). The Importance of EHR Interoperability. Retrieved from Wheel: https://www.wheel.com/companies-blog/importance-of-ehr-interoperability

Quinn, M., Forman, J., Harrod, M., Winter, S., Fowler, K., Krein, S., . . . Chopra, V. (2019, August 27). Electronic health records, communication, and data sharing: challenges and opportunities for improving the diagnostic process. Retrieved fro

Williams, F., & Boren, S. (2008). The role of the electronic medical record (EMR) in care delivery development in developing countries: a systematic review. Journal of Innovation in Health Informatics16(2), 139-145.