The unemployed professors define the Electronic Health Record (EHR) is a form of information technology system that is used in majority of advanced medical centers in the country. It is a system that enables collections, storage and even presentation of patient data in electronic forms. The vast amount of data collected by these systems ranges include individual patient data such as weight, age, height, immunizations status, medical history, laboratory reports, radiology reports, allergies and other medical status as well as billing. EHR systems basically capture almost all data on all the activities that take place in medical institutions.
Benefits of EHR systems
The advantages of EHR systems are many. Firstly, EHR systems save a lot of costs. Studies conducted by both the government and independent bodies confirm that EHR systems are very economical especially for large and well established medical institutions. Since these systems are interconnected, they form vast networks that enable sharing of information very easy and convenient as opposed to the traditional paper form. Tracking of medical developments is thus faster.
Electronic data forms are easy to store and easy to retrieve whereas handwritten materials are not only time consuming to track but are also cumbersome to carry around and quite often are illegible. Even much better, EHR systems come with handwriting recognition tools which makes the adaptation to the new system by practitioners an easy and smooth process. Searching for information is faster with digitalized data compared to the traditional filing system.
Data synchronization is fast with digital data that hard copies. Therefore, EHR systems enhance productivity and networking in the medical field. Practitioners can easily brainstorm and share experiences on the network and critical decisions can be arrive at in less time. Furthermore, EHR systems are designed to be flexible as they can be installed on mobile ambulances that are integrated into the whole system. EHR systems are automated, majority requiring only regular maintenance and servicing hence improving service delivery among many more benefits.
Disadvantages of EHR systems
Whereas the benefits enjoyed in an institution with an EHR system are many, there are numerous problems that such systems bring about. One of them, which is the main reason for the slow adoption of EHR systems, is the initial cost of setting up the infrastructure. Installation of the systems requires heavy capital to purchase the hardware as well as proprietary software that are used with them. This poses a big challenge to small clinics or physician offices that have little capital investment. Just as the system is less economically feasible, it is considered by many such practitioners as non-essential. As EHR systems are technology-based, they tend to evolve. Today, these systems use cloud computing services such as maintenance and data storage.
Another reason reported to contribution to slow adoption is the human resource requirements of EHR systems. The systems require operators that are well skilled in the fields of computer and information technology. Such personnel are not easy to get in remote parts of the country and even if they can be found, there is the issue of remuneration. Payment to the IT technicians that run these systems is almost out of reach for clinics in small towns. However, this is bound to change with design improvements done on the systems. Modern EHR systems would require much less expertise and are diversified to even incorporate hand held devices such as phones and notepads that most people are already familiar with.
The fact that EHR systems collect personal health records of all the patients and store in a network, presents a privacy and confidentiality issue. How confidential is a patient’s data in a vast network in the event of a cyber-attack? Though the systems are designed with high security enhancement, a number of patients are skeptical about it. Serious security breaches have been witnessed in data centers, banking and other financial institutions and government databases which were considered secure and thus it is hard not to conceive the same happening to EHR systems. Some people would prefer their medical status and history information not displayed out or shared. There are fears of such systems collapsing in the occurrence of not only hack threats but also environmental and natural disasters such as hurricanes and earthquakes. Technical failures such as system crashes are also possible according to the unemployed professors.
Legal concerns are increasingly becoming a concern. Failure or damages incurred during EHR systems installation process create opportunities for lawsuits. Also due to legal liability issues, unemployed professors highlights that EHR system makers may shun off from markets located in disaster prone areas. This in turn affects the adoption of the system in such areas.
ICD is an acronym for International Classification of Diseases or International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems. It is a medical classification designed and maintained by the World Health Organization (WHO). ICD-10 is a new version that is currently in use. The most recent and upcoming version, ICD-11, is in the development stage. ICD is an international standard for classifying diseases, sign and symptoms, abnormal findings in medical industry, complaints, social circumstances and so forth. It basically maps health conditions to categories which are assigned to particular codes. This helps provide a common denominator in healthcare industries across the world and enhance interoperability, comparability, sharing and cooperation. Individual countries can use it as a blueprint or adopt it without modification need they.
ICD-10 adoption will provide a tremendous opportunity for better capturing of information in the increasingly complex delivery of healthcare. Although there is an unavoidable cost, as expected during in system upgrade in the implementations, the long-term benefits make the transition imperative (Coustasse 2013).
ICD-9 has been in use in the United States since 1979 but the classification codes have proved to be inadequate. This along with advances in technology led to the creation of the universally compatible electronic health record (EHR) system. New medical terminologies and procedures have been created since the advent of ICD-9. Every year, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) receive new hundreds of terminologies from medical research institutions across the country and thus there is a genuine need to upgrade to the new ICD-10.
The CMS had required transition from ICD-9 codes to the new ICD-10 codes throughout the healthcare industry by October 1, 2011 (CMS 2011). This process was postponed to until October 1, 2014 due to the outcry and complains raised. Many sited financial constraints as a major hindrance to the transition among other reasons. A further delay was proposed by the American Medical Association (AMA) to until 2015. Any further delays have been speculated to have adverse effects to the system and this proves that it is time to go the new way.
International Healthlink Professionals (2010) reported that adoption of ICD-10 would give the country ability to track and respond to international health threats and to better utilize the benefits brought by the EHR. Evidence indicate that this change is necessary to enable the country catch up with systems installed in other developing countries and provide quality and affordable healthcare to its citizens. One of the improvements in the ICD-10 is the enhanced specificity of the codes (Coustasse 2013). This is perceived to reduce the need for additional documentation and increase efficiency unemployed professors. This level of detail is what is exactly required to cope up with the developments witnessed in the healthcare industry. The large amount of codes in ICD-10 have enabled the inclusion of ambulatory care, home health care and skilled nursing care facilities as well as new technological advancements and procedures (Nagel, 2004).
Putting aside the issues of cost of implementations and other huge investment requirements, there is evidently a lot to gain by transitioning to ICD-10. The American Hospital Association (AHA) argued that the new coding system is economical in the long run and allow for increased reimbursement to providers (Bowman 2008: AMA 2010a).
1. Ashish K. Jha , M.D., M.P.H., Catherine M. DesRoches. Use of Electronic Health Records in US Hospitals. 2009.
2. Coustasse A. & Paul III, D.P. Adoptation of the ICD-10 Standard in the United States: The Time is Now. The Health Care Manager 32(2), 260-267. 2013.
3. Nagel S. The migration to the ICD-10-CM. Preparing for the inevitable. 2004.
4. World Health Organization (WHO). 2006. ICD-10 version 2007.