“This is happening partly because it’s good for medicine, it’s good for care,” Neal Seidberg MD, Upstate University Hospital’s chief medical information officer says of the digital movement. Additionally, practices receive financial incentives through Medicare for adopting electronic medical records now; they will be penalized for not doing so after 2016.
Upstate rolled out a confidential electronic medical records system called MyChart earlier this year, which invites patients to create free password-protected accounts that become standardized records of all of their information. “The major issue here is that seamless data about a patient is available to everybody who took care of them,” Seidberg says. “If you are a patient, your care now comes home with you. It doesn’t just stop at the doctor’s office. And it follows you from office to office.”
For patients that means:
- pharmacies receive digital prescriptions and, in some cases, reduce the amount of time patients spend waiting;
- if they become ill or injured while traveling, their medical records are available at any hour, by computer or smartphone;
- the results of lab work are readily available;
- they can make appointments or seek non-urgent medical advice or prescription refills by computer or smartphone; and
- parents have access to immunization records for school children.
Patients may enjoy the convenience, but electronic medical records promote consistency and communication among healthcare providers – which improves health care.