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Is Converting To EHR Really Beneficial For Patients or Practices?

THE-DOCTOR-PATIENT-RELATIONSHIP2

We are all subject to the coming changes in the way our healthcare is delivered and the way our personal health information is managed. On one hand we look at it as a positive thing, being better for the environment as everyone is trying to “go green” and decrease their carbon foot-print. In some ways it has made medical offices more efficient and added some ease in that more doctors are being able to see and share important information with each other more quickly.

Before I go any further, let me clearly define the differences in an EMR and an EHR: An EMR is a digital version of the paper chart used in a clinician’s office, generally containing medical and treatment history such as surgeries, med lists, history & physical, etc. The information in EMR’s does not travel outside of that one clinician’s office. In an EHR “the information moves with a patient. It represents the ability to easily share information.” They are designed to be accessed by all people involved in the patients’ care (including the patient.)

There a lot of benefits to transferring to EMR/EHR such as a record that is cleaner and easier to read, able to be shared more quickly with health care providers and hospitals all over the country, and in most cases more accurate information because the doctor will generally have a drop-down menu to choose from when inputting patient information.

As with anything else there will always be the supporters and the ones that see the changes as a negative thing. Generally, we try to ignore the “negative Nancy” and try to see changes from a more positive perspective. In a world of constant, rapid growth and change in technology how can we really be sure our confidential medical information is protected from crafty hackers or even the people that we trust to handle it with care? Unfortunately, we can’t and the reality of it is that it is not all positive change.

We all make occasional typos, right? It is much easier to do using a computer or tablet than it is to do when hand-writing a document. These “occasional typos” can turn a 14-year-old young man into a 65-year-old woman with just one simple click or copying and pasting the wrong information into the wrong patient’s chart.76% of hospitals do not have policies in place for their EHR’s regarding the copy-and-paste feature that we all love and use so much. The lack of these policies can result in incorrect medical documents, and also wrongful information submitted to insurance companies.

In an article from ModernHealthcare.com they state that health care fraud can be “as easy as hitting Control-C, Control-V.” They also state that “adoption of new systems has coincided with a rapid rise in higher-cost Medicare Claims”. Following the rapid rise in Medicare Claims there were studies performed to see whether or not EHR’s are enabling illegal up coding.  Attorney General Eric Holder and HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius issued warnings in a strongly worded letter to hospitals stating that “there has been evidence that hospitals are using EHR’s to obtain payments for which they are not qualified, a process known as up coding.”

Electronic Health Records or EHR’s were designed to bring the rising cost of health care down, make the processes in any medical setting more efficient and save more lives, not make it easier for fraudulent acts to occur.

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