Electronic Medical Records and The Future of Medicine

Electronic medical records (EMR) are a long-sought after goal  for many healthcare providers that seem to be finally becoming reality. The information technology and health care industries have been trying to decide on and develop EMR standards for many years. The logistics and legal issues surrounding medical records and the vast quantity of information that must be included for just a single adult patient has hindered progress repeatedly.

Over the past few years however, EMR standards have started to emerge. The advantages of EMRs and their encompassing document management systems are many, including:

  • Faster access to critical data
  • All data is accessible from almost anywhere
  • Analysis of patient data can find potential dangers (conflicting medications)
  • Cheaper operation for medical facilities
  • Backups of the data is relatively cheap and insures against data loss
  • Are easier and cheaper to keep up-to-date with current laws and regulations

With the release of the Apple iPad in 2010, mobile devices have seen a large increase in use in the medical community. The portability and capabilities that the iPad (and other tablets) have allows doctors and clinicians to integrate them with their hospital’s EMR enterprise document management system to view and order results, images, medications wherever they are in the hospital. But that’s only the beginning.

In fact, recently a few doctors in Boston’s Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center integrated Google’s wearable computer, Glass, with their EMR enterprise document management system. Using the wearable device (which contains a smart phone-like camera) and quick response (QR) codes posted outside a patient’s room, or on the wall in the room, the doctors were able to decrease their response time in treating patients. To achieve the successes, the hospital’s IT staff modified the software and some of the hardware of Google’s device to ensure privacy and HIPAA compliance. The result was a system that allowed a clinician to enter a patient’s room, look at the QR code that was posted, and then be presented with the patient’s medical records all while staying with the patient and having their hands free.

This is just the latest instance of mobile computing advances working with hospitals’ enterprise document management systems to benefit the industry. It’s only going to get better: these advancements accelerate the move toward going completely paperless. Better use of digital documents encourages their wider use. This increased usage drives demand for more documents to be digitized which drives innovations in document imaging and data entry systems. The influx of digital documents feeds into improvements in document management systems which drives the usage of the digital documents. It’s a self-sustaining cycle that’s really starting to take off.