The introduction of an electronic health record (EHR) system is often met with both opposition and support. For many people, EHR adoption is a controversial topic that touches on issues such as invasion of privacy and excessive government involvement. Other individuals see EHR adoption as a great step forward in healthcare. People who support EHR adoption believe that some of the benefits are cost-efficient healthcare, better coordination of services among healthcare professionals and safer records. Opponents of EHR adoption believe that it is inefficient, it is an invasion of privacy and record storage is not secure.
EHRs have the potential to be cost-efficient because they can save time and money. In a paper-based filing system, healthcare professionals often keep their own patient records. If these records are needed by a specialist, the exchange of these records must be coordinated via phone, e-mail, fax or mail. With EHR adoption, all healthcare officials can obtain access to each person’s medical file.
By being located in a digital database, EHRs can be accessed by most healthcare professionals. This usually means better coordination of patient healthcare. If an individual needs to be referred to a specialist, the correct tests and procedures can be accessed from the EHR, resulting in far fewer questions and miscommunication.
If EHRs are used, there is a smaller chance that medical records will be destroyed. In the case of flood, fire or other disasters, paper medical files are often destroyed. Digital files housed at a central location are less likely to be affected by situations such as these.
Some individuals believe that EHR adoption means less efficient healthcare. Various healthcare providers might have different EHR systems, resulting in incompatibility and an inability to access records. In addition, there is little standardization, further decreasing efficiency.
Invasion of privacy is another factor that many individuals point to as a major deterrent to using EHRs. With the possibility that EHRs will include genetic information, medical histories and other personal information, many people worry that this information might be used against them at some point. Some companies have introduced radio frequency identification chips that might be implanted within a person to further keep track of patient information. Despite attempted assurances of no personal privacy invasion, many people are unsure about using this type of technology.
Many people are leery of having their medical records digitized and stored in a remote location. Although many companies try to assure individuals of the safety and security of their information, they still worry about their personal data falling into the wrong hands. Companies that house this data work hard to inform individuals of the steps taken to keep their information secure.