Tuesday, August 18, 2015

How Will Paperless Medical Records Affect Healthcare?

The medical industry is constantly undergoing new changes. Advances in technology are among the most significant factors that have driven the industry in recent years. A number of companies such as Micro MD have developed new electronic record keeping software, which is poised to change the market in the years to come.
How will paperless medical recordkeeping affect the healthcare industry? Here are some factors that industry experts and consumers should be aware of.

Lower Costs

The cost of storing medical records is much higher than most people would expect.   Carl Christensen, CIO of Marshfield Clinic, is a strong supporter of paperless medical recordkeeping.  One of the many benefits that he highlighted is the massive cost savings it would entail. “The elimination of pulling paper charts alone could result in a $7 million savings annually,” he wrote.
If the costs for a single clinic would be reduced by $7 million, then the cost for the entire country would be even more significant. Lowering the infrastructural costs for healthcare providers would ultimately lead to lower costs for consumers, which would eventually lower health insurance premiums.
Cost effectiveness is one of the biggest reasons many customers turn to services such as Micro MD paperless recordkeeping. Demand for these services will likely increase as the need to curb costs rises.

More Accurate Care

Healthcare providers are constantly looking for new ways to improve the quality of care that they provide to their patients. They are under even greater pressure to do so as changes to the Affordable Care Act force them to look for ways to reduce readmissions and problems that cause medical mistakes. One of the biggest causes of medical error is that doctors often get information wrong about patients. They can mix up patients’ charts, forget which medications patients are allergic to and make other egregious errors.
The use of electronic medical records can significantly lessen the risk. Doctors will have more immediate information on their patients, which reduces the risk of making an error. It is also much easier for them to update information if patients make them aware of a change or mistake in their medical history.

Revisiting HIPAA Regulations

Medical privacy is becoming a greater concern than ever. HIPAA was put into place to protect patient privacy and has done a good job doing so. As medical recordkeeping becomes more common, regulators may need to reassess the way that records are stored. They have already placed limitations on the ways that medical data can be stored on the cloud.
Does this mean that electronic records are less secure? No. However, the risks are different than those of paper records, because the ways that they can be accessed are different. Therefore, the safeguards that healthcare providers must abide by must be different as well. The policies may need to be changed over time to reflect the different precautions that regulators feel are warranted.