Why I Want My Doctor to Use Electronic Medical Records

I want electronic medical records for my medical history! There are so many advantages to the system.

Paper records are almost always messy, making them time-consuming and difficult to use. Each folder contains dozens, sometimes hundreds, of pieces of paper, often of different sizes. Have you ever watched your doctor flip through page after page of your file and wondered if he would be able to find the lab report he needs to treat your current illness? Have you seen him shake his head in frustration as he looks for the record of the last time you had this particular problem, three or four years ago? A system of electronic medical records, with all the ease of sorting and accessing information, would make that problem a thing of the past. That can be important to me.

Paper records are also slow. Many people have to handle each piece of paper before it finds its final home in your file! How often have you heard “That lab report isn’t here yet,” when it’s in the office but just hasn’t made it into your file? How frustrating! Electronic medical records would be available much more quickly.

Electronic medical records would be less likely to be permanently damaged or lost. I’m not just talking about major catastrophes here, like my doctor’s office burning down or behind hit by a hurricane. Just having a cup of coffee spilled on a file can make many pages unreadable. Electronic medical records would be much safer. Yes, coffee spilled on a keyboard might make the record in front of me disappear, but I’d know that another copy exists. My records would be safely stored. Electrical failure might make the computer system fail, but my electronic medical records would be safely stored in archive of back-up files.

Transferring records would also be easier, and as a patient, I like that idea! I recently dealt with an emergency room, my GP, a surgeon, a hospital, and a physical therapist to treat an injury. Getting my records transferred from one to the next was complicated. Getting it done promptly was impossible! It took a week inside the hospital for my records to be transferred from the handwritten notes on my chart to the printed form stored in the hospital’s medical records departments. It took several days after that for those records to be sent to my own doctor. This wasn’t a big problem for me, but what if I had really needed prompt care, and choosing treatment depended on the information in those unavailable records? That could be dangerous, even deadly. Electronic medical records would make sharing my file easy. My medical record could be stored in a database and summoned up with the tap of a key. The information needed to successfully treat my injury would be readily available to all the professionals involved in my care.

Maybe I can ask my doctor to switch to medical electronic records and shred that ugly old paper file.

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