Digital records cut down on errors

Published 8:08 pm Thursday, July 7, 2011

There seems to be a never-ending buzz on innovations in health care. Each day brings reports of new treatments, proposed health care bills and negative effects of previously approved drugs.

But one of the newest innovations that comes as a result of our high-tech world (or maybe that should be HITECH world) is the ability to transfer all patient files into a digital format.

The Health Information Technology Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH) has made this possible as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

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Although controversy remains over whether an economic stimulus like the 2009 Act can have any true and lasting effect on the job market, this move toward electronic medical health records, or EHRs, is an undeniable benefit of the increased federal funds for health care the Act provided.

Having accurate digital records cuts down on human error, which can affect the medical world in a variety of ways, from minor (like increasing time-efficiency) to major (like ensuring no patient faces death due to sloppy handwriting).While there are those who question the security of patients’ private records in a digital format, the benefits of this paperless system outweigh the possible negatives.

With digital information, health care professionals as well as the patients themselves can more easily access patient records. Information can also be more easily updated and organized. There may be some credibility to the fear that the EHR system could be used inappropriately — be accessed by people who have no right to the information, or the information therein be used in a discriminatory or otherwise unsuitable manor.

But such is a possibility with any system that any agency or company employs.

No system is perfect, but technology is creating a better future all the time — a future, we hope, will include more physicians turning to EHRs.