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Electronic Health Record (EHR) is a digital account used to maintain patients’ health information. The information can be used by multiple health facilities. This digitized information improves efficiency in healthcare delivery and reduces expenses and time taken to serve patients. Technology has led to advanced electronics that are used by nurses and caregivers in the healthcare sector. The EHR has information on laboratory data, medications, past treatment history, information on surgeries, and visit to health professionals, progress notes, and immunizations. Manual healthcare recordkeeping has evolved to become digitally and electronically available by all healthcare providing facilities.
Background of the Electronic Health Record
Various acts like the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) aided the adoption of EHRs. This was supported by the regulations provided in the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act of 2009 (HITECH) (Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT, n.d). This act offers federal incentives in support of nurses in healthcare facilities when they use the Electronic Health Records in their operations. These funds are disbursed through Medicare and Medicaid over a certain period. Under HITECH, several programs have been made to ensure that nurses are trained to use the electronic records.
Before the development of EHRs, healthcare records were done manually. This manual work resulted in confusion of data on patients and wastage of time. Millions of dollars were wasted in keeping healthcare records, and that amount would have been used elsewhere. Written records were very fragile, less private and in the event of physical calamities like fire, everything was destroyed. In 2009, President Obama enacted the HITECH and ARRA acts that supported funding for hospitals and nurses to try to develop electronic records. Elimination of labor costs, medical mistakes, and clumsiness due to paperwork could save the American taxpayer $300 billion every year (Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT, n.d). These reasons led to the development of the EHRS. This records link hospitals, clinics, physicians, nurses and all professionals in the healthcare sector.
Current Status of EHR
The introduction of the EHR in the field has led to both positive and negative results in healthcare. In a positive manner, EHR has led to the computerization of health records. This avoids errors, improves efficiency, and reduces cost while increasing storage for longer periods. An EHR solution helps to generate comprehensive archives that conform with the Nationwide Health Information Network (NHIN) and Regional Health Information Network (RHIOs) needs, Currently, EHR provide episodic data claims for patients. This system of EHR has started in the whole of Europe. Many EU member states have proceeded with labeling their EHR systems. In the development of EHR, lack of enough funds, losses encountered during adoption and changes in workflow are some of the obstacles experienced. The costs of Electronic Health Records increased during installing and training of personnel. A study conducted in the United States in the year 2009 showed that $47 billion was used for the EHR installation project (McNickle, 2012). Considerable investment is required for the EHR to be implemented in the healthcare sector. Evidence from Panel Data Analysis of United States found that health care with primitive IT and upgrading to EHR improved their services.
Future of EHR
The future of HER needs to work on the support of the CMS’ plan on Physician Quality Reporting System (PQRS).The use of industry-neutral and reinforced and unique management technologies can increase the efficiency of EHR. The federal government should fund all efforts that will lead to the adoption of Electronic Health Records (McNickle, 2012). Funds saved after implementation of EHR should be used to research and advance the current EHR system to increase competence and innovation.