EMR Software is Catching on | Electronic Medical Records

An electronic medical record, or EMR, is basically a computer program that keeps track of medical records, claims, billing information and other data. There are many benefits to the EMR software system, although there are still limitations being worked out. As long as the security policies of electronic medical records are monitored similar to the way banking records are, the system is safe and effective. As technology improves in the future, EMR software will become the medical records system of choice in America.
While only approximately ten percent of hospitals in the United States had their medical records in EMR software as of 2006, it is continuing to catch on around the world. One of the largest electronic medical records systems in the world is operated by the National Health Service of the United Kingdom. Their goals relating to EMR software are to have 60 million patients’ medical records stored in a central EMR system by 2010. Alberta, Canada also have their own EMR project within the NetCare program. The Department of Veterans Affairs has the largest organizational health information system using electronic medical records in the United States. Their EMR software system is known as the Veterans Health Information Systems and Technology Architecture, or VistA. Their EMR system has an interface that allows medical professionals to review and update their patient’s medical records at any of the more 1,000 VA healthcare centers. Their EMR software can place orders such as medications, special procedures, x-rays, patient care nursing orders, diets and laboratory tests.
The United States is slowly beginning to catch on to the benefits of electronic medical records. About 25 percent of office-based physicians reported fully or partially using electronic medical records systems in 2005, according to the National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey. That represents a 31 percent increase in U.S. EMR use from the 18.2 percent that was reported in their 2001 survey. The same survey also revealed, however, that only 9.3 percent of the doctors have a “complete” EMR software system. This means EMR programs with all the basic functions minimally necessary, including computerized orders for prescriptions and tests, reporting of test results, and physician notes. The current barriers to adopting an EMR software system include the training, costs, complexity and the lack of a national standard among competing EMR software options. People who see the benefits of electronic medical records hope that product certification will provide doctors and hospitals in the United States with the assurance they need to justify significant investments in new systems. If more medical records in the United States were managed using EMR software, supporters believe we would have a much more streamlined medical system.