Electronic health records
Bishoy Morris explains what the fuss surrounding new electronic records is all about
You know that room in your hospital, labelled medical records. Try to pop in one day and capture a mental image of it; there is a good chance that you will never see it again. Those old heaps of manila files enclosing barely legible handwritten medical records may soon give way to a versatile successor: electronic health records (EHRs).
An EHR provides electronically maintained information about an individuals lifetime health status and health care, which replaces or supplements the paper medical record.1 The software, however, is intended to support patient care and reduce cost, time, and errors, rather than just to be a digital copy of an existing paper record.2
The US Institute of Medicine has recently defined eight core functions of an EHR system (box).3 Even an EHR with only these basic functions makes a paper record look primitive, bulky, and inefficient. EHR software programs will be designed to