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The Benefit of Growth in the EMR Industry

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The development of electronic medical records has revolutionized the healthcare industry. The ease of storing, retrieving and modifying digital files has helped administration and accuracy, and slashed costs, errors and bureaucracy in hospitals, clinics and doctors’ offices. There are still some concerns over the full scale adoption of electronic medical records, but the argument in its favor is very strong. Here’s a look at the benefit of growth in the EMR industry.

The Basic Benefits of EMR

EMR provides many advantages over traditional, paper-based medical record keeping. The two biggest pluses would be preventing transcription errors and decimal errors. Historically, a doctor would record his or her notes into an audio storage device, and an intern, assistant or secretary would then play back the recording and transcribe the notes.

This process is fraught with danger for errors, as the verisimilitude of the notes depends on the accuracy of the transcriber, the quality of the audio recording, and even how clearly the doctor enunciates his or her words. If, however, the doctor has specialized software which can be trained to capture his words and record them instantaneously, this not only reduces the chance of a transcription error, but also removes the necessity for an extra process (the human transcription).

Decimal Errors and a Real World Example

Decimal errors occur as a result of miscommunication between a doctor and one of her staff when administering the volume of drugs and other medications. For example, a numerical misunderstanding between a doctor in Alabama nnd an outsourced transcriber in India led to the death of a woman, and, at $140 million, one of the largest civil trial settlements in American history.

However, had the doctor been able to record his notes directly into an EMR system, it is arguable that there may not have been a human transcription error on such a vital piece of information as the volume of a drug to be administered to a patient. Adoption of EMR saves money and can save lives.

The Push for EMR

The federal government is inclined to feel the same way, levying penalties for healthcare institutions that refuse to make the transition from paper-based record keeping to EMR. In February 2009, Congress and President Barack Obama set aside $30 million of economic stimulus money to to help doctors, hospitals and other medical facilities purchase the necessary equipment to make full scale EMR use across the healthcare system a reality. There is still reluctance on the basis of not fully trusting computers and technology to do a job that requires a perceptive and discerning human brain (since EMR is not without its fallibility), and that the implementation and adoption of EMR systems will bring its own price tag.

Furthermore, the industry behind EMR will bring its own challenges, with issues of competition, mergers, acquisitions and other bureaucratic idiosyncrasies complicating processes over time, and making growing small businesses providing EMR services even more difficult. But given the scope of improvement that EMR offers – cutting down on paperwork, increasing accuracy, saving money and offering better care to patients – the benefits of growth in the EMR industry far outweigh the adversities.

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