Advantages and Disadvantages of Digital Patient Health Records

Pros and cons of EHR in India

Let us start with the benefits. These are obvious and in the long run outweigh any disadvantages or costs of using EHR. Also read – Disadvantages of using Traditional Paper Based Health Records 

Benefits of an Electronic Medical Records Platform in India:

There are significant advantages of a digital patient health record (PHR). Also known as Electronic Patient Record (EPR), these applications confer huge longer term savings to the users, both the clinical staff/organisation and patients. Some of the advantages are as outlined below.

The Patient Tracker System is designed to confer all of the positives outlined below.

  • PTS is cloud based and thus Digital Records are portable and can be accessed from anywhere and via any smart device or computer.
  • Works across all operating systems
  • Secure and encrypted end to end
  • Agile, iterative and learning systems can be adapted quickly to changing medical needs and in line with advances.
  • Legible, decision making aids and tools reduce chances of error.
  • Patient notes are searchable, imagine perusing illegible notes running hundreds of pages and the time it would consume.
  • Allows e-prescriptions to be sent to designated pharmacy
  • Generate e-reports and editable letters with ease
  • A single record for one patient across all departments
  • Add smart API’s and modules such as drug interactions to medication and prescribing modules to improve clinical safety.
  • Quality Improvements – keep a log of appointment activity, audit patient outcomes, export data for R&D, improve service delivery and evidence based practice.
  • Accountability – EHRs are tamper proof, and audit trails can retain original copies of edited notes. A good EMR will include role based user access permissions and restrictions monitored by Organisations Super-Admin or IT Department.
  • ICD 10 and 11 diagnostic coding or adding an interface that allows use of SNOMED CT coding
  • Use APIs to connect and link patient records to billing applications or path labs.
  • Backed up – all data can be securely backed up, this offers other advantages i.e. business continuity tools if main servers are down.
  • A state of the art cloud based digital medical records application drives down capital costs – the hospitals no longer have to spend money on commissioning their own intranet or networked computers, and they don’t have to pay to maintain these either. Computer terminals and desktops are not needed as records can be maintained on the move via tablet devices that can work on 3G /4G and not just wifi or dial-up or cable broadband solutions.
  • Further costs savings accrued by not having to spend on maintaining paper records, printing, scanning, filing, real estate for storing records or manual porter costs associated with retrieving and fetching patient notes in hard copies. Similarly, secure email / text encrypted transmissions of reports and prescriptions speed up care and make it safer as well.

So what then are the likely cons, the costs or disadvantages of using EHR in India?

  • Poorly built EHR can increase time pressures and cause clinician burnout
  • Inadequate security measures and any data breaches can result in penalties to the health provider. Usually terms of using an EHR from any vendor will ask the health provider to indemnify the vendor in case of failings.
  • EHR systems can be costly capital investments initially, though in the longer term they will save or in fact make money through efficiencies for many providers. Remember – pay peanuts and you get monkeys. Invest wisely in the right system as major costs for many hospital providers would typically include revamping systems. re-design of the application and changing vendors / EHR suppliers and ensuring business continuity.

Dr Adhiraj Joglekar

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