Summary: More and more state authorities in the United States are telling hospitals they need to make the transition from paper medical records to electronic ones. Medical institutions that already have digitized record management systems are finding that their quality of service and patient care are improving as a result. Often on the front-line of patient care, nurses stand to be one of the chief beneficiary groups of the widespread move towards electronic medical records.
As nurses are on the frontline of patient care and support in any health care setting, both the accessibility and protection of patient data records is particularly important to them. Whether it’s to determine the method of treatment or to inform a patient and their family, nurses need to be able to quickly access medical records.
At the same time, effective and secure data protection is absolutely paramount. Depending on the reason for admission, many patients find hospital stays to be stressful and traumatizing. The last thing they need is to worry about the security of their medical records.
In all walks of life, the digitization of record management has facilitated and improved both the accessibility and the protection of sensitive data. This is particularly the case in the health care profession, where medical records are so important. The introduction of electronic records into the medical sector as a whole and the nursing function in particular is a timely and positive move.
Establishing electronic medical records systems in hospitals requires a lot of work, as the transition needs to be made from traditional paper records to digitized data. The smoothness—or otherwise—of this transition will have an impact on how not only nurses and patients, but also physicians, caregivers and other staff, cope with the changes and adapt to the new system. With this in mind, it’s well worth taking the time to make sure the transition is as smooth as possible, instead of trying to rush it through.
Being patient through the transition stage is worth it in the end. Nurses, especially, benefit from having access to well set up electronic medical records in a number of ways. For instance, nurses working in the emergency room can instantly receive patient statistics from paramedics before the ambulance even arrives at the hospital. If a nurse has to look up additional information whilst treating a patient, they can track it down without even having to leave the patient’s room.
Nurses concerned about their ability to both access and add to digitized records needn’t worry. Anyone with a satisfactory amount of computer literacy is able to navigate their way through electronic medical records systems. A short period of training may be required to familiarize health care professionals with their medical institution’s particular records management system, but this shouldn’t be too taxing. Once someone is trained to use a particular system, they are set for life and will also find it easier to learn how to use different institutions’ systems.
With so many benefits in mind, it’s little wonder that various federal governments in the United States are now requiring hospitals to make the transition to electronic medical records. Just as it’s on the health care frontline, the profession of nursing has always been on the forefront of technological advances in the medical world. The introduction of digitized patient systems is not the first example of this and it won’t be the last, but it’s a current example that reflects well on nursing. Those devoted to the profession and to high quality patient care as a whole can rest easy in the knowledge that technology is once again on their side.
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