Electronic Health Record: a New Era of Healthcare


Ancient Egyptians offered a huge amount of information recorded on papyrus, teaching us the importance of documentation, especially in the medical field; they recorded methods to diagnose diseases and treat them, as well as patient details. Centuries later, written records were applied in the medical field in the 1920s; reports, medications, diagnosis, and other sorts of data were written on printed paper that was attached to patient profiles and kept on shelves to be retrieved when needed. In the 1960s, the technological surge in the computer world was the foundation for a new era in the field; that would be the electronic health record.

This system is designed using computers to store information, retrieve them, share them, and safely analyze them. The record encompasses various types of data, including the patient's contact information, records of doctor visits and admission, pathological and surgical history, family's pathological history, vaccinations, allergies, X-rays, and medicine lists. Through this record, it is possible to automatically share or update information among various institutions, in addition to sharing multiple media, such as X-ray results, and all of the patient's details that help doctors with the diagnosis and reduce medical errors.

By comparing the paper-based documentation system to the electronic health record, we find that the latter saves a huge amount of paper, which helps save the environment, and reduce the possible long-term costs. It also helps save about 10-20 hours a week of recording, according to healthcare providers. Moreover, doctors have a hard time finding enough space to record all the information in paper-based files that are sometimes difficult to read; paper-based files are also more vulnerable to destruction or loss, while the electronic system helps restore information and retrieve it with high-efficiency.

Although the electronic health record offers considerable benefits to humanity, there is a number of consequences deviating from its implementation; these include the risk of hacking the confidentiality of the information and its privacy, in addition to the increased cost of activating the service in comparison to the return on investment. Technically, some healthcare providers or workers do not have computer skills because they were not given sufficient training, in addition to the shortage of devices.

There are strenuous efforts to update the electronic health records by adding other features, such as voice-recognition. The latest invention concerned with recording the patients' data was unveiled: Microchip. The US Food and Drugs Administration approved its trademark, Verichip; a device that cannot be seen with the naked eye, it is transplanted under the skin using local anesthesia. Scanner-type equipment is used to activate the device and read the ID of the patient to reach their files that are stored in a secure electronic database. However, the problem of hacking the privacy is worrying many people, as in the case of any modern technology. Hopefully, radical solutions for such obstacles will soon arise.









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