I am now 6 weeks into a Nursing Informatics class. I realize every day how little I truly know about informatics in health care. I am anxious for the National Electronic Health Record (EHR) system to become a reality. Although there are some huge issues to be dealt with, patients could get faster, safer, better and more comprehensive care because their record could be accessed from anywhere. Patient transfers would be made more efficiently. The receiving institution could get a preview of the patient. The sending institution would not have to worry about giving a good enough verbal and written report. The patients would have the peace of mind that everyone would have the same information. I don’t think it was truly realized in 2004 how many good things could come from a National EHR system. Everything could operate more efficiently. Increased efficiency means less cost to all involved parties. The downside of the National EHR system is it is creating a considerable strain, financially and psychologically, on health care institutions, staff, patients, and third-party payers. To get the benefits of the system, vast amounts of information technology infrastructure has to be put down. Infrastructure costs billions of dollars and this is taking place as the United States is trying to dig out of a financial meltdown. That is why the United States Congress approved $27 billion in incentive payments to healthcare providers that proved they used EHR’s in a meaningful way (Medscape.com). When the National EHR is finally on-line, just think, everyone will be singing from the same sheet of music. This is great for patient safety. Many times safety issues arise as a result of a breakdown in communication. The National EHR will help with the communication aspect of patient care and safety.
Face it, all health care providers want to do is to provide good care in an efficient manner with minimal obstacles. The National EHR could be the answer if it is employed in the proper manner. When health care providers get frustrated with the obstacles during care delivery, they start employing short cuts. This is when mistakes occur and patient safety suffers. The possibilities look great for the National EHR, we just have to continue to be patient advocates and make sure it is used to its potential.
Now, who will have ownership of each EHR? The patient still owns it and should have access to it at their discretion. The health care providers and third-party payers should have access to the EHR when the patients use the health care system. The Federal government should provide the rules and regulations for the EHR. Not only does the patient’s EHR contain medical data, but it also contains personal information that belongs to the patient and only the patient. Only when the patient allows, should anyone have access to the EHR. The patient should be thought of as the CEO of their Electronic Health Record. As healthcare providers, being allowed to have access to the record does not give one the right to claim ownership. The same is true for third-party payers. Possession does not equal ownership in this case. With the new EHR coming, there will be more people with a vested interest in the patient’s chart. We have to remember as healthcare providers we are there to serve the patient in a safe and efficient manner and document the service we provide.