As the word is out on Big Government backing the electronic health records (EHR) concept, and with the implementation of technology infiltrating every aspect of our lives, it comes as no surprise that hospitals and medical centers across the country are investigating and embracing the EHR system.  With a record number of implementations, national surveys are beginning to assess the benefits and risks of adopting the EHR system in every sized hospital or medical facility.

According to recent surveys, nearly all hospitals and facilities who have implemented the EHR system experiences both benefits and barriers to the various components and core functionalities.  The largest number of complaints with regard to barriers during implementation of the EHR system are “perceived risks.”   These risks include the cost of implementation of the system.  This concern arises when small to mid-sized facilities perceive that the cost of hardware will outweigh the promises and benefits the system will bring.  The number of “perceived” benefits are growing and overshadowing the cost-barrier that is at times thought of.

The number of benefits is large, and because of this the government is discussing the implementation of EHR and EMR systems in every public hospital.  These advantages hold true and the word is getting out to private facilities of nearly every size.

The number one advantage or benefit of implementing the electronic health records system is the lower cost over the long term.  The initial cost is perceived to be high, and can be in some cases, but over the long haul the cost dramatically decreases.  A similar manually operated system can far outweigh the perceived disadvantages of implementing the electronic system.  The cost of a manually operated system is dramatically higher than that of the electronic record system.

Aside from the cost of implementation and hardware upgrading or conversion, the next biggest benefit, especially acknowledged by the government, is the lifesaving documentation provided efficiently and effectively across the country in the event of tragedy or epidemic.  Hospitals impacted by Hurricane Katrina, the California fires and other large scale tragedies have benefited by EHR systems because these systems replicated the stored information and medical records in other areas of the country so that they would not be destroyed in the event of a catastrophe.  Also the information was readily available to those doctors treating patients impacted by the event and as a result, better outcomes were determined.  Doctors found information readily available and at their disposal, when time was of the essence.

Record keeping is becoming increasingly important as the federal government continues to support the EHR system implementation in both public and private medical facilities.  The government continues to show its support by providing money and effort to implementing the electronic record system to its Veterans’ hospitals across the country.  This new regard for electronic record keeping has helped thousands of veterans who find themselves in need of medical care when outside of their local area.  No longer are doctors at the mercy of the time required to locate past medical history and records associated with previous care.  Through the electronic system, medical records are readily available and at the disposal of the caring physician.

With the government’s support, small and mid-sized hospitals are taking a careful look into the EHR implementation.  Moving past the perceived notions of cost assessing the long-term effects of the change are proving to be beneficial and empowering.