Electronic Medical Records: Who Benefits?

by Joanna Smith on Jun 10, 2010

“In a survey conducted by Harris Interactive for the Xerox Corporation, Healthcare IT News reports about half of Americans support the switch to electronic health records, but felt that patients themselves  have  the least to gain from EHR adoption.”

This is very curious!  While EMRs will make billing easier for providers, one of the big changes for the patient/consumers is that that they will have increased access to those records.  If they are on vacation in Idaho and are in an accident, their providers in Alabama could transmit the entire medical record to Idaho.  That would greatly assist the Idaho providers in providing the best care possible.  Or, if you live in Texas and decide to seek a second opinion at a center of excellence in Minnesota, your complete file could be available to all the specialists on that team.  So access will increase, and coordination of information should be improved.

What many people are concerned about is the security of their on-line medical information, and they do not yet see the benefit of improved access.  What they believe is that providers are going to EHR because they’re getting extra money to convert to that system (that is partially true); the consumer/patient is not being asked “do you want to do this?”  They are being told as it is happening “we’re doing this”.  That’s an unfortunate approach:  what works best to change the public’s opinion is education over a long period of time about the change and the advantages.  In many ways, the transition to EMR left out a critical component:  the patient!