When going to the doctor’s office, there was a time when patients had to check out their medical records before seeing their doctor or dentist. They would also have to return the medical records before leaving the clinics or hospital. Now patients are able to skip those steps because of electronic medical records. But what exactly are manual medical records and electronic records? According to Merriam-Webster, medical records are a record of a patient’s medical information (as medical history, care or treatments received, test results, diagnoses, and medications taken).
Electronic medical records are digital medical records that either originates from an electronic format or is converted from paper or hard copy to an online version. This paper will give the reader insight on the pros and cons of both manual and electronic medical records, and will allow the reader to form an opinion on which is the better method of filing records. Medical records are used to maintain all of a patient’s medical files. These files and documents include, but are not limited to vitals, medication history, prior injuries, treatments, and appointments.
The medical records come in two forms: electronic and paper (manual). Both are essential to keeping track of patients’ medical history. This is important for doctors to be able to continue appropriate treatment, and especially necessary for patients that have a team of physicians and therapists. Without medical records it would nearly impossible to give the proper care to a patient because there would be a lack of knowledge of past medical care and treatment. The question that usually arises about medical records is “which are better, electronic or manual records?”
This is a very good question, but both methods are very beneficial. There are pros and cons to both of the methods. When comparing the two I like to evaluate them based on storage, legibility, access, and security. These four points can help you determine which method is more reliable or efficient. “Storage of medical records is an area in which electronic medical records seem to have the edge. Hospitals and medical providers often have warehouses literally filled with paper records. Besides taking up space, paper records are not eco-friendly.
Electronic records can be stored on computer drives that require much less space and fewer resources to produce. Paper records also naturally deteriorate over time in storage, regardless of how well their environment is controlled, and they tend to decay upon excessive handling. Computer records can in theory be stored and accessed forever, without the deterioration of record quality. While doctors may have a reputation for poor penmanship, few people in any profession can write as clearly as a computer word processor can.
Paper medical records can be difficult to decipher, particularly for those unfamiliar with medical terminology. One of the clear benefits of electronic records is that typeface is more or less standardized and clear across all records. This clarity saves time for the reader, and time can be critical in medical treatment. However, doctors or their assistants who are unfamiliar with the best practices of word processing technology may find it time-consuming to enter records electronically”
According to John Csiszar, one of the main benefits of electronic medical records is that they can be shared with other professionals almost instantaneously via electronic transmission or direct access to a storage system. For paper records to reach other interested parties, they must either be mailed or converted to electronic format, such as via scanning and emailing, before they can be accessed.
Both paper and electronic record storage systems have some security vulnerabilities. Electronic records are susceptible to hackers and other unauthorized individuals who can gain access by breaking down the electronic defenses of a storage system. Electronic records can also be rendered inaccessible due to system crashes or other electronic malfunctions. Paper records are generally safe unless someone physically breaks into a storage unit.
Both types of records can be susceptible to natural disasters such as fires and floods; however, a facility will typically have only one copy of a paper record, versus at least one backup copy of an electronic record. Both electronic records and manual records are beneficial. I personally think that they should be filed in conjunction with one another. I think that we should do them electronically, but print copies for paper records as a backup system. Computer systems are not always reliable, so the paper records would be beneficial during those times.