Computers have revolutionized how companies approach handling the large quantities of data that comprise day-to-day operations. Where as countless hand written records were previous sorted through and kept, now most things can be stored on computers. While this dramatically reduces waste, it has also raised concerns about the integrity of the data in it current form.
Consider hospitals. For years, hospitals have kept only physical copies of patient information. Carefully guarded as to secure the private rights of those who go to the hospital, the hospital has kept these records under lock and key. More recently, like all other industries, records have gone from a physical format to an electronic format. Electronic medical records are currently being used, and hold a great deal of promise within the field of medicine. However, there are also a number of considerations that question the how useful electronic medical records really are. Lets take a moment to review some of the advantages and disadvantages involved.
The Advantages of Electronic Medical Records
1. Can Increase Access Speed
One benefit of having electronic medical records is that it increases the rate in which your attending physician can retrieve your records. While this saves you time, it also decreases the number of records that are lost due to misplacement. With quicker record acquisition comes more time doctors can spend with their patients.
2. Can Lead to fewer Errors
There is an old joke that doctors have the worst handwriting. Electronic records help prevent the doctor’s handwriting from leading to misdiagnoses or proscribing the wrong medication.
The Disadvantages of Electronic Medical Records
1. Information More Easily Stolen
With private information entering a database, there is always the risk that the information will be stolen. This can be theft performed by one nurse looking up the records of another, or by someone outside the hospital hacking in. While many security agencies will ensure you that their anti-hacking strategies are full proof, it is still possible for your records to be stolen electronically.
2. Potential For Information Loss
Simply put, data can slowly corrupt. In fact, storage of information with current technology is not full proof. Servers can go down and large amounts of information can be lost. While all hospitals keep backups and reserves in case of this inevitability, it still does not bode well. The data storage equivalent of a fire, losing these records online might mean losing your record during a time of need.