Just like nearly everything else in our daily lives, medical care is going digital. And this change has the potential to improve your family’s health care and put you in greater control of it.
In 2011, nearly three-fifths of office-based physicians used electronic medical record or electronic health record (EHR) systems, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And these numbers are on the rise.
Experts believe EHRs will revolutionize the delivery of health care in this country for the better, making it faster, more efficient and more user-friendly.
“Patients are more likely to take an active role in their health and adhere to the care plan if they are more engaged in the process,” says Albert Santalo, President and CEO of CareCloud, a provider of web-based software for the medical industry.
Here are some major changes you can expect to see as this trend hits local doctors’ offices:
• Fewer mistakes: You may have felt nervous when your doctor handed you a prescription that looked like chicken scratch. Electronic records will help reduce mistakes caused by human error.• Less waiting: With electronic records, you can expect shorter waiting room experiences. And your doctor may have already implemented software that allows you to fill out tedious paperwork online. In the future, you’ll need to find another venue for catching up on last year’s magazines!
• Faster service: Your health records will “travel” with you, accelerating the speed of care anywhere, and will connect primary physicians, specialists, labs, and other healthcare providers for faster collaboration.
• More access: New software gives patients immediate access to their medical records. For example, CareCloud lets patients view their lab results as they become available and browse their history online. For more information, visit http://www.carecloud.com/ .
• Savings : Though it may cost a pretty penny for your doctor’s office to make the initial switch to an electronic records system, you shouldn’t be expected to eat the cost. Government incentives are helping doctors upgrade their systems, and once those systems are in place they should cut down on costs by eliminating redundant treatments and tests.
You may be feeling apprehensive about your medical data being stored in thin air. But experts say that with the proper security measures in place, there’s nothing to fear. “Cloud-based systems store your data in high-security servers that operate under the most stringent security standards and comply with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA),” says Santalo.
As more medical practices turn to new technologies for data storage, it’s important for consumers to be informed about how it works. So the next time you go in for a checkup, check in with your doctor about how your information is stored.