Patient records are an essential aspect of providing quality healthcare. They give doctors vital data that allows them to make diagnoses and create treatment plans. An error in a patient’s record can have serious consequences for the patient and their loved ones. Studies from the Abia State University show that a medical error is made in 42.8% of cases where paper records are used instead of electronic medical records (EMR).

The high rates of errors on paper happen because not only are doctors notes a mistake waiting to happen because of how illegible they are, there is a lack of standardization in hospital documentation and record-keeping. This means that millions of Africans are subjected to substandard care that often leads to injuries, unnecessary complications and even death.

To drastically reduce the errors that happen across hospitals and clinics in Africa, it’s important to understand what EMR’s are and how they can help medical practitioners provide better care.

What is EMR?

In the simplest terms, an Electronic Medical Records system is a digitized version of paper records in hospitals and clinics. EMRs replace the use of paper in the hospital for storing patients’ records and the medical practitioners up to date with the progress of a patient’s treatment.

With EMRs it is easier to access a patient's file. With a few keystrokes, an authorized nurse or doctor can pull out a patient’s record going back years at a time and a good EMR organizes it so that all the vital information can be gleaned at a glance.

Doctors also find it easier to keep tabs on their patients with a good EMR. They can easily set up appointments check-ups and screenings so they stay on top and able to prevent any medical eventualities.

Benefits of EMR

Where it is carefully designed and implemented, EMRs help hospitals and clinics accomplish more than they would if they used paper. Let's look at some of the benefits of using a functional EMR system and how it can optimize the processing of clinical archiving in your hospital:

  1. Reduced wait time and improved quality of care: Because EMRs automate the record-keeping process and eliminating the need for physical cards, patients do not have to wait long to be attended to when they visit hospitals and medical facilities. A minute in a hospital can sometimes mean the difference between if a patient lives, dies and has a better or reduced quality of life. Tapping a few keys in an EMR instead of wasting valuable time walking to the records room and scanning through tons of paper stacks helps improve the quality of care that patients receive and increases the odds of improved health.
  2. Enhances patient safety: A good EMR makes it easy for you to ensure the safety of your patients. There is no illegible doctor's note to interpret because all the current and previous treatment plans are laid out in a simple, easy to read format that can be accessed on any device. The risk of pharmacists giving an erroneous medication, is almost down to zero. EMRs not only allow test results to be instantly delivered to the doctor and the patient but it also helps prevent errors that can lead to false results or unnecessary and dangerous treatment plans.
  1. Better administrative oversight: Investing in an EMR offers your medical facility more time to focus on productivity in the areas that matter. It saves time because all the important data and in-depth analytics are delivered straight to the hospital administrator’s screen. EMR’s allow hospital administrators to keep an eye over the staff. An EMR allows them to know from a cursory glance, who does what and who goes where.
  2. Better revenue management: By adopting hospital administrators and public stakeholders can easily monitor all their revenue drivers. The data tells them where to divert resources so they are able to build on weaknesses and strengthen their advantages. A good EMR will also help block any financial leakages that can arise from paper records. This helps healthcare facilities to improve revenue management with the added advantage of eliminating the costs incurred by paper records and stationery.

No matter who you are or what you do, what happens in the healthcare sector should concern you. EMR’s reduce the risk of misdiagnosis and improve the quality of care patients get. They save medical practitioners time and ease their stress. They help healthcare practices run more efficiently. They help governments make and execute better plans for national healthcare. You should insist on EMR’s whether you are the patient or the caregiver.