Yuma Regional Medical Center adjusting records management policies
The medical records management sector is undergoing significant change as organizations are being pushed to implement electronic record systems in response to government healthcare reform initiatives. The Yuma Regional Medical Center is among the recent additions to the list of hospitals responding to the new records management goals, as the organization recently implemented a new electronic health record (EHR) solution that is aimed at improving patient care, the Yuma Sun reported.
The news source explained that the year-long project to implement EHRs, called YRMCCare, is designed specifically to overcome the inherent weaknesses in the hospital's existing paper records management solution.
According to the Yuma Sun, the care center had been experiencing considerable inefficiencies within its paper-based systems, as basic operational problems still proved problematic for the organization. One key inefficiency was making records useful for patients. Engaging individuals is about presenting them with key information pertaining to their care and putting them in a position to understand what it means and what they can do about it. When paper record systems are filled out by doctors detailing conditions in physician jargon and with sloppy handwriting, records are unable to play too important a role in patient care.
The report said the new EHR system is designed to provide physicians easier data entry through digital forms that can be filled out by typing information into the solution. This may cause some operational lapses at first while doctors become accustomed to the new methodology, but efficiency should improve in time. This will not only eliminate some of the barriers for patient engagement, but also make it easier to simply manage records on a day-to-day basis.
Moving records from place to place and accessing them on a frequent basis can leave information shuffled and difficult to find, the news source explained. This can lead to significant delays when trying to find specific details about a patient, making it much more difficult to ensure efficient care. Electronic records management removes this barrier entirely, though it also presents some of its own challenges from an operational and accessibility perspective.
The end goal of most EHR deployments is to improve patient care, and the report said that will be the case in this instance. All patient information will be stored in a database that physicians can access while providing treatment or planning for a consultation. Furthermore, the system will be fed data when updates are made, making it far easier for doctors and other care providers to stay up to date on patient conditions.
These kinds of advances offer significant potential for care providers, but companies should take a strategic approach when switching to EHRs. The key challenge, outside of simply implementing the EHR effectively, is figuring out what to do with old patient records. Information for current patients needs to be moved to the EHR to ensure that it is available with the new system, but older information that needs to be kept, but does not have to be in the EHR, may be best kept in paper form. Digitizing paper records can be extremely expensive, and it is a capital cost that many hospitals cannot easily afford. However, outsourcing record storage with a third-party provider can ensure the old paper records remain secure and available at all times, allowing hospitals to retain accessibility to records without having to digitize them or use key facility space to store them for an extended period of time. This not only reduces the cost of initially digitizing the records, but can also help hospitals save on real estate by reducing the quantity of paper records stored on site.