Maintaining medical records electronically is the latest technological trend in the global healthcare industry. Early adopters of electronic medical records (EMRs) have urged their colleagues to jump onto the bandwagon, resulting in more and more doctors wanting to emulate them and reap the resultant benefits. Hence, it is very important to know what an electronic medical records system consists of.
The chief components of an EMR system are:
This includes all the physical components of computers and servers connected to the EMR system.
This includes both the programs used to direct the operation of the hardware and the documentation that gives instructions on how to use it. Thus, EMR software, operating system software, fax servers, lab interfaces, and other applications make up the software of an EMR system.
The people using the EMR system are termed ‘users’. This includes physicians as well as staff members involved in administration, medical dispatch and maintenance.
All the information fed into, used, supported by and displayed in an EMR system comprises its ‘data’. This data includes electronic health records, medical records, patient databases and images.
Learning about these components effectively clears the prevalent ambiguity about EMR systems and EMR software. While the latter forms an integral part of the former, the two are not synonymous.
To clarify further, when a medical practitioner purchases EMR software, the package will typically consist of the following:
- Application software
- Application database
- Specifications of requisite hardware
Once he purchases the EMR software and installs it into the correct hardware, he must ensure that the software is configured to give the best results. Next, processes and guidelines for data entry and usage must be set. Finally, by training the users, he can complete the formation of an EMR system in his workplace.
Once a physician sets up an EMR system at his practice, he can reap benefits like:
- Eliminating the need for physical storage space as all records would be maintained electronically
- Saving costs of storing, duplicating and transferring data on traditional media like paper or film
- Increasing efficiency and reducing the scope of errors, damage and loss, usually associated with physical records
- Accessing a centralized, updated database to check patient records and to carry out research
- Standardizing forms, terminology and abbreviations, resulting in well organized, regulated data input
- Exchanging data easily both within the facility as well as with other facilities
Eventually, all these benefits help the physician to focus on his core competency, that of providing quality healthcare; while the EMR system proficiently takes over his administrative responsibilities.
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