What are the advantages of electronic health records (EHRs)?

The Internet’s democratizing effect has given consumers more access to healthcare information than ever before, and the results have been as diverse as consumers themselves.

Engaged individuals frequently take a list of questions to the doctor with them, perhaps after first performing an Internet search on the doctor’s background and their own symptoms. They compare treatments on disease-specific message boards. Further, they check their lab and imaging reports through their online patient portal.

Online patient portals give people an opportunity to spot mistakes in their health records and can prompt those with chronic conditions to schedule needed tests and checkups. Image-enabled health information exchanges (HIEs) are helping to reduce redundant diagnostic procedures such as computed tomography (CT) scans and x-rays. Interoperable electronic health records (EHRs) are saving people and their providers valuable time and effort by digitizing personal health information.
Most consumers will first encounter the benefits of health IT through an electronic health record, or EHR, at their doctor’s office or at a hospital. On a basic level, an EHR provides a digitized version of the paper chart you often see doctors, nurses and others using. In the future, when an EHR is connected to all of your healthcare providers (and often, to you as a patient) it willl be able to offer so much more. Here are some advantages:
  • - EHRs can reduce paperwork. 
  • - EHRs can help get your information quickly to the people who need it. 
  • - EHRs can help your doctors coordinate your care and protect your safety. 
  • - EHRs can reduce unnecessary tests and procedures. 
  • - EHRs can give you direct access to your health records.
Today, your doctor likely keeps a paper record (sometimes called a "chart") of your information in his or her office. If you're hospitalized, your hospital also keeps a chart. An electronic health record (EHR) is, at its simplest, a digital version of those paper charts. However EHRs put all of your health information at your health care professional’s finger tips in ways that paper records cannot.

Digitizing a paper chart has several advantages, including allowing your doctor to check if you are due for preventive screenings or checkups and keep up to date about your health and health insurance.

Ideally, your doctor's EHR can securely connect to a hospital, lab, pharmacy or other doctors, so other clinicians who care for you have a more complete picture of your health.This can help you avoid repeat tests and procedures and ensure that you are up to date on screenings and vaccinations.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.