3 ways EHRs improve patient safety

3 ways EHRs improve patient safety

When discussing electronic health records, many people focus on how the systems affect doctors and other medical staff. In addition to streamlining work processes for health processes, EHRs also improve the lives of patients whose practices use them. Here are three ways these digital files actually enhance patient safety.

1. They help prevent errors 
While physicians and nurses receive immense amounts of training and education, every situation has room for human error. According to Medical Mastermind, EHRs are three times more likely to prevent mistakes from occurring than they are to cause errors. Because the systems store every detail of all patient visits, new diagnoses will be reviewed by the programs and compared to past medical issues, allergies, genetic predispositions and prescriptions. This comprehensive screening will allows EHRs to issue alerts if they discover discrepancies between newly entered information and medical history.

2. They make patients more aware of their health
It’s easy to ignore health issues if the only time you gain access to your medical information is during in-office appointments. With EHRs, however, physicians can encourage patients to log into their portals on a regular basis and review test results, refill prescriptions and communicate via direct messages. Exscribe noted that people with EHR access are also more likely to reread and follow information their doctors give them at the end of visits about how to improve their health.

3. They are more secure 
When EHRs first gained popularity, many physicians were concerned about patient privacy, wondering if digital files were more susceptible to hackers than traditional paper records. Now, many doctors who have implemented EHRs believe the programs are actually much better at protecting information, noted Practice Fusion. Because all records are maintained digitally, they never fade or smudge to become illegible, and there is no risk of them being destroyed in a flood or fire.

Additionally, most programs have well-refined security systems that would make it extremely difficult for digital hackers to access, and there’s no way the hackers can steal files forever. However, once paper files are taken by the wrong person they can never be returned, making it difficult to make accurate diagnoses in the future and therefore endangering the patient’s health.