Free Can Electronic Health Record Really Save Our Health Care System Argumentative Essay Example

Published: 2021-06-18 05:11:26
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Category: Health, Patient, Nursing, Medicine, Information

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Introduction
As technology continues to advance every single day, health care systems are also advancing together with this technology. One aspect of heath care system that has witnessed massive advancement is the Electronic Health Record Systems, usually abbreviated as EHR. Electronic Health Records refers to a record of a patient’s health information and history generated and stored in electronic databases. The information may be in regards to aspects such as allergies, x-rays medications, immunizations amongst others. More and more health institutions are adopting this brand of health technology and abandoning the traditional methods recording health data that involve manual paperwork and files. However, the entire process of shifting from this “analogue” method of keeping data towards the “digital” method is still in its infant stages, and there is a lot that requires to be done if a full shift is to be realized. One persistent question that has however, been in many health scholars’ minds has been whether the shift to the Electronic Heath record systems will result in improved healthcare.
It would perhaps be wise to first look at the costs of moving from paper records towards digital or electronic records. As mentioned previously, most of the health records in the country are stored in manual papers and files. Over the years, hospitals have been stocking hundreds of files containing patient’s health information and this has resulted in the filing up of medical stores in these hospitals. This problem can be fixed by the introduction of the electronic healthcare recording system. The real problem is realized when it comes to the conversion of paper records into digital records. It is an extremely costly venture that may prompt some stakeholders to consider abandoning the implementation of the EHR systems altogether (Jha, 250). The other cost is realized in the purchase of the EHR equipment and the subsequent installation and adoption of the equipment. In any given health institution, it is estimated that the price and cost of executing or implementing an EHR system that is fully functional ranges between $13000 and $2500. The combination of equipment and software purchase, training and a whole year of support activities can add up to a cost of $150,000. Although the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) helps health institutions to implement electronic health by covering a part of this cost, the cost of converting old paper records to electronic records to left to health institutions to finance themselves. HITECH incentives total up to about $18000 per annum for institutions that have just started implementing the systems, but after some time, these incentives significantly decrease in amount and by the year 2016, they will not be available at all. For example, medical physician’s s and institutions that started adopting the electronic health record systems in the year 2011 are expected to receive about $45000 dollars in the next 5 years. One the other hand, those who adopted and started implementing the systems in 2012 will only receive about $27000 over the next three years before the end of 2016 when all incentives will stop. It therefore, appears that institutions and physicians who started implementing the EHR early will benefit more than their counterparts who started late. Current research indicates that health institutions and physicians are rushing to start implementing the system right now so that they can receive maximum incentives from HITECH and therefore, reduce their own spending in terms of implementing the EHR records (Gans, 27). When the cost barriers have been overcome, and EHR systems have been successfully implemented, then the benefits of EHR will start to be realized.
There is a huge need for privacy and security to be maintained when it comes patient health information. This aspect can be considered as a beneficial aspect of the electronic health records system. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) has laid down regulations regarding privacy and confidentiality of patient information (Jha, 253). The Act protects health information that is individually identifiable and grants rights to individuals regarding their security and privacy of their data. In fact, such rules and provisions have laid the groundwork for the extensive use EHR to collect record and exchange clinical and administrative date between health institutions. These days, when the patient information is stored electronically, he or she can be rest assured that it is safe and secure and is not prone to unauthorized use. This is because the electronic health records system are sometimes designed in such a way that anyone one who accesses a patient’s health information leaves a digital footprint, and if he is not authorized, he may traced by the law and consequently charged. The HIPAA Privacy Rule lays down some national standards that protect an individual’s health records together with other personal medical information. This applies to a variety of health aspects such as health plans and health care clearinghouses. This rule clearly stipulates the appropriate safeguards that health providers are supposed to take to protect patient’s health information privacy. It sets the limits and conditions for patient health information usage and disclosures that can be made in the absence of the patient’s authorization. The HIPAA Privacy rule essentially gives patient’s rights over their electronically recorded information (Jha, 253) .
Patient’s information stored under the electronic heath records systems is also under the protection of the HIPAA security rule. Just like the privacy rule, this rule lays down national standards that are meant to protect patient’s electronic health information that is generated, received, maintained or stored by a given heath entity or physician. It requires appropriate psychical, technical as well as administrative safeguards to make sure that the security, the integrity, and the confidentiality of personal electronic health information. As it was mentioned earlier, the revolution of the EHR essentially means more privacy and security of patient’s information and this will without a doubt lead to an improvement of the health care system.
Another issue of debate regarding the implementation of electronic heath records regards its effects on medical errors. Will the implementation of EHR lead to a reduction in the number of medical errors? Given the high number of medication errors that lead to negative consequences to patients in terms of costs and harm, their prevention should be a priority for all heath systems.
The electronic health records have a very huge potential to reduce the number of errors in the medical fraternity. Electronic health record systems helps to keep relevant information regarding one’s medical history, family history, allergies amongst other conditions at the healthcare team’s fingertips. Therefore, whenever one gets sick, the healthcare tam can easily refer to your records for instance to see if one has ever suffered a similar illness before and what was the diagnosis. In addition, they might be able to see the medication that one was given at that instance, and the reactions that the patient’s body had. This extremely crucial because there have been instances where some care providers have given medications to patients only for patient’s bodied to react unexpectedly and become even worse (Choi, 301).
In addition, the utilization of electronic health records helps to minimize medication-spelling errors. Doctors are particularly notorious for their extremely illegible handwriting that can have serious consequences when it comes to making drug orders (Agrawal, 682). Patients or nurses can misread what the doctors have prescribed and order different medications. The electronic heath record systems take care of this problem through the electronic prescribing. These systems can, in addition, alert heath clinicians about some medication combinations that may not interact well and that my therefore be harmful to a patient (Agrawal, 685).
The government has mandated the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) to be in charge of the conversion from old paper and manual file recording system to the electronic health recording system. The government has set aside significant funds that are disbursed through HITECH to health institutions as well as physicians to help them in the conversion process. Before implementing the system, HITECH officials are mandated to inspect the system and ensure that it is at par with all the government’s regulations. Implementation of the EHR will hugely benefit not only the government but will also benefit the entire society. It will essentially lead to better patient quality outcomes across the entire nation (Choi, 300).
EHR has a huge effect on patients. The first thing is that they ensure that patient’s health data is well documented and stored and can be easily be accessed when required for reference purposes. The electronic health records also ensure that security and privacy personal health data or information is guaranteed, and unauthorized people do not get access to this information. Another effect on patients is that it enables them to be able to seek medical help form different health institutions without having to worry that their health history and information may not be available in the new institution. This is because the doctors at the institution can easily collaborate with the other health institution to share patient information and, therefore, determine the best care to provide to the patient.
Works Cited
Agrawal, Abha. "Medication errors: prevention using information technology systems." British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology 67.6 (2009): 681-686. Print.
Choi, J. “Implementation of consolidated HIS: Improving quality and efficiency of healthcare”. Healthcare Research Information, 16.4. (2012), 299-304. Print.
Gans, David, "Medical groups' adoption of electronic health records and informationsystems." Health Affairs 12.2 (2005): 23-56. Print.
Jha, Ashish. "Use of Electronic Health Records in U.S. Hospitals." New England Journal of Medicine12.23 (2009): 245-267. Print.

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