Patient documentation is an integral part of delivering quality care. Despite the modernization of electronic health records and digitization in data keeping, many healthcare institutions still juggle between electronic and paper records.
This article decodes some recent facts on paper vs electronic health records and also, elaborates why shifting to electronic health records is better for the healthcare future.
MARKET FACTS ON EHRs
Over recent years, several studies have been conducted comparing electronic health records to paper-based records. This comparison relied upon various factors like record completeness, accurate retrieval ability, time consumed, and other economical and clinical parameters.
Following are the collected results from these studies:
- Published way before the pandemic, a 2007 international Journal for Quality in Health Care study quoted “On average, electronic medical records were 40% more complete and 20% faster to retrieve.” The study analyzed EHR vs Paper records in mental health centers and found that EHR-associated medical documentation was prompt and more complete than conventional data-keeping.
- Both Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association and Online Journal of Public Health Informatics studies concluded that “dual documentation practice” across the nation’s healthcare organizations is the primary reason affecting EMR data quality. This is further hindered by patient overload and the discreetness of each patient profile.
- Further, both researchers suggested healthcare providers shift either side of health recording and train their staff to settle with the upgraded system accordingly.
“The lessons learned from this study are that medical professionals should be cognizant of the possible discrepancies between paper and electronic information and look toward combining information from both records whenever appropriate.”
JAMIA (Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association)
A medical record is a detailed report made at the initial registry of a patient. It includes all symptoms, signs, physicians and other healthcare provider comments. A patient’s medical record is the complete directory of a patient’s health, quoting all care observations and treatment plans.
Paper-based patient records (PPR) date back to the 1960s. For decades, they have been considered the “Gold Standard”. Often electronic health records are validated against paper-based data records.
Traditional paper-based records imply recording patient information using paper, discs or films that are stored in physical space. Color-coded cards and filing systems are famous types of PPRs.
Pros and Cons of Paper-based Records
Despite the customization ease of PPRs, futuristic technology infers physicians’ shift to digital patient recording. Even with conventional records’ acquaintance, paper-based records impose several cons.
Benefits of PPRs
- LOWER COST as only paper files is required.
- FAMILIARITY with PPRs executes great advantage. Many senior physicians and older practices are prone to this system and find digital data-keeping troublesome.
- NO INTERNET NECESSITY for PPRs is a benefit for practices in rural areas with lower connectivity issues.
Drawbacks of PPRs
- HUMAN ERRORS like poor handwriting, misspelled medications or tests, inaccurate frequency filling, and misplaced records can impose life-threatening outcomes.
- ALTERATION HASSLES are created while making constant changes in the records manually.
- EXTRA PHYSICAL STORAGE is mandatory with PPRs. Increasing patient flow is good news for any practice, buts it comes with larger record-keeping issues. The external warehouse can be booked but that comes with two additional problems:
- Extra costing for renting or purchasing a separate data storage warehouse.
- Medical records should be kept in hand and easily accessible when needed. No matter how close the warehouse is, it will delay the emergency treatment of critical patients.
ELECTRONIC HEALTH RECORDS (EHR)
Due to the frequency and diversity in the electronic health record systems, many healthcare organizations are shifting towards EHRs. These are digital filling of patients’ conditions and all relevant data that might intervene in future diagnoses.
Pros and Cons of Electronic Health Records
Even though technology holds the charge in EHRs, we live in a tech-dominated society where 90% of healthcare workers are tech-savvy. Hence, EHRs have long-term benefits that outweigh those of PPRs.
Benefits of EHRs
- PROMPT DATA COLLECTION is possible with electronic health records. EHR software and external technology vendors have made integrating the digital system into practices easy. CareCloud’s specialty templates make incorporating patient data and filing accurate treatment plans hassle-free.
- INTEROPERABILITY access with a digital data system helps physicians collect lab results, medication records, and toxicity reports faster. Thus, improving critical patient care and diagnostic measures. You can also benefit from CareCloud Connector.
- ICD-CODING & BILLING PROCESSING occurs simultaneously with patient care. While the physician is treating patients, his services are accurately coded, billed, and filled in the system automatically.
- HIGHER DATA CONFIDENTIALITY with authorized accessed records and personal sign-ins of all staff workers. EHR software timestamps and tracks changes. This secures patient data and eliminates security breaches.
- DATA ENCRYPTION is mandatory with all electronic health records, abiding by the HIPAA compliance rules. Thus, maximum security is prioritized in EHRs through which patient data is protected within the organization and unrelated staff cannot access it.
- MINIMAL COST IN THE LONG RUN. For practices that allocate thousands of dollars annually in data keeping and practice management, assigning an initial generous amount to integrating electronic health systems is beneficial.
Drawbacks of EHRs
- HIGH UPFRONT COST, as discussed EHRs only cost high initially. With greater annual revenues, these costs are easily affordable by organizations.
- HIGH-SPEED INTERNET SERVICE is one con, however, considering the technology boom nowadays, it seems less of a hassle.
Although paper-based records are considered the Gold standards for patient records, with advanced coding rules, EHR shows qualitative and quantitative benefits in procedural coding.
Also, electronic health records have the core potential for accurate data-keeping; thus, enhancing accurate patient management.
CareCloud’s cloud-based EHR system understands a practice’s shifting to digital data records struggles. Hence, we have created flexible and advanced software with backend support that shall:
- Record real-time data alongside integrating previous patient records.
- Expedite clinical encounters with multiple reusable templates to configure.
- Flexible charting options help office staff to incline older records with digital data faster.