EHR vs. Paper: Are physicians more efficient?

Visiting the doctors’ office usually is not an outing that one looks forward to all year. A simple patient appointment for a referral or common illness diagnosis can take hours primarily due to the wait time. Whether you are sitting in the waiting room or the examination room, the time to wait until you see your physician is significant. Speaking from the patient side of the equation, promoting the use of electronic health records versus paper allows this waiting time in between appointments to reduce. This is due to the simple fact that there is less work to be done after each patient. The argument about whether or not to go electronic vs paper has become more relevant to physicians as our healthcare system is undergoing major changes. Part of this change is the push for electronic health records.

Although some physicians prefer the manual method of paper and pencil, in a time where everything is digital, paper is not efficient anymore.

Paper is more costly over time

To process paper records, this requires additional employees to handle, support, and organize paper files and other documents. Despite the fact that electronic health records have greater costs initially, they reduce the cost of records significantly overtime.

Saves time

Physicians do not have to spend hours filling out endless amounts of paperwork. Employees do not have to waste time with the processing and handling of paperwork and finding places to store it. Therefore, the practice is better able to dedicate more time to the care of their patients. No more digging around file cabinets or taking time to drive to the warehouse to hunt for files. In emergency situations, every moment counts and now patients can get their needs fulfilled sooner.

Environmentally friendly

The storage of medical records typically exists in warehouses taking up space and deteriorating over time. This creates large amounts of unnecessary waste and is unhealthy for our environment.

Easily accessible

Both patients and physicians can access electronic health records from anywhere. Most electronic health records can be accessed from a patient’s home. This provides the patient a sense of convenience. Instead of calling or visiting the doctor’s office every time they have a question about their health record or a loved one’s, all they have to do is bring it up on their home computer.

Better organization

Paper records tend to be incomplete after being transferred to various medical facilities causing the likelihood of redundancies in tests in treatments to be greater. Having health records on line allow for a comprehensive medical history for all patients. Transferring documents electronically is also more convenient, efficient and faster.

Although these points clearly direct us to the conclusion that electronic health records would in fact be more efficient for a physician, some physicians are hesitant to make the switch. Reasons include the adjustment period many practices would have to face resulting in financial loss and downtime they could experience. However, in time electronic health records will prove to be time and money saving.

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