That process took up a lot of space and it consumed a great deal of time when physicians wanted to pull up the historical clinical record, since it required physically locating it. There was also the risk that discs could be misfiled, making the record more difficult to find. And with EKGs, for example, needing to be printed and scanned individually, the process used a great deal of paper.
Electronic medical records have changed all that.
Whether doctors are using an electrocardiogram, or EKG, to test the electrical activity of the heart and look for abnormalities, or whether they’ve sought clues in an echocardiogram, which creates a moving picture of the heart to determine its health, the images are now available within seconds from their computer.
“It’s really amazing to see how far technology has come,” said Anita Bach, the director of cardiac services. “The physicians and staff now have immediate access to the information they need, anywhere in the hospital.”
Bach explained on the echocardiogram, which is more detailed than an X-ray since it allows doctors to see the heart beating, the technicians used to have to write measurements on a piece of paper while doing the test. Those measurements would subsequently be dictated by a physician and then transcribed afterward. Entering the measurements electronically has eliminated the need for transcription, shaving hours off the turnaround time for results.
The electronic imaging capabilities also are used in the vascular and gastrointestinal labs, which used to be scanned on paper into the medical record.
“This technology has not only led to greater efficiencies, but the important thing is that it has allowed for enhanced patient care through faster diagnosis and access to integrated information,” Bach said. “It also ensures a complete, accurate permanent archive of historical clinical information.”