The 411 on EMR

The 411 on EMR

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The world is going digital, and it’s going to affect your health. Healthcare, that is. That’s because the healthcare industry is leveraging the Internet for more effective and efficient patient care in the future.


While most healthcare facilities nationwide are making the transition to Electronic Medical Records (EMR), it is not required. "EMR is not a mandate, but rather part of the stimulus plan," says Alex Rodriquez, vice president and chief information officer at St. Elizabeth Healthcare.


According to Rodriquez, part of that plan provides incentives to implement electronic medical records and the incentives are spread out over a period of four years per physician. The hospital’s incentives vary depending on the amount of Medicare volumes per institution. "Additionally," Rodriquez says, "there are disincentives that are in place, that state if you do not have EMR in place by 2015 a small percentage of Medicare revenue will be held back."


How does EMR change things for patients? Rodriquez says the biggest change is that physicians no longer have to search to find lab results, radiology reports, etc. "Everything is made available to the physician in one location," he says. "The implementation of EMR enhances how we interact with patients, resulting in reduced costs and better patient care."


EMR enables productive discussions to take place between the physician and patients because patients can ask their physician to review materials for accuracy and completeness, says Rodriquez. "It provides seamless care for the patient in which the patient, physician and hospital can all access the same information in one place," he adds. "Additionally, health systems like St. Elizabeth Healthcare will be extending EMR to patients so they can access their own personal health record, which will allow them to access their own information through a user ID and password."


While some are concerned about security of their healthcare information going digital, Rodriquez says, "Migration to EMR is as safe as the paper world given that the health system is diligent on security practices. St. Elizabeth Healthcare remains very proactive with regard to personal health information in any medium be it paper or computer based."


To help with the migration, Rodriquez says you should do a few important things before your next doctor’s visit: Log on to your health record prior to their visit with the physician and update your info so that the physician has most up-to-date information. "This will help facilitate discussion between them and their physician that will result in a better visit for the patient," he says.