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March 19, 2013

5 Benefits of EMR vs. Paper Medical Records

According to standards established by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Incentive Programs, healthcare providers and hospitals have until 2015 to demonstrate “meaningful use” of electronic medical records or lose a portion of Medicare reimbursements.

Apart from the physical differences between the two, there are several distinct features of electronic medical records that are beneficial, making the transition from filing cabinet to secure cloud storage worth it.

1. Costs

Although providers may experience some initial costs as they implement a system for storing EMR, the costs of records over time will decrease significantly. Paper records require more personnel to manage and maintain paper files, accesses and organize countless documents. However, an electronic system means less man power, time and physical storage space are needed.

2. Storage

Many healthcare facilities store paper medical records in large warehouses that are filled to the brim with countless documents. Not only do those records take up space, but they also are less environmentally friendly and tend to decay, simply in storage or when handled by many individuals over time. Electronic records, however, can be stored in a private and secure cloud, allowing the use of fewer resources and providing easier access by those who need them.

3. Security

Both paper and electronic storage systems are susceptible to security concerns. If a facility stores records electronically, they are vulnerable to access by unauthorized individuals, when the proper and effective security systems and controls are not in place. However, reliance on an established and compliant managed hosting provider serves as a good option for providers concerned about the security of an internal electronic storage system.

If records are in paper form, they are open to compromise resulting from a break in, the loss of a record due to human error, or damage as a result of a natural disaster such as a fire or flood. Because many facilities keep just one copy of a paper record, the loss of a single record could mean that it’s gone for good.

4. Access

Often, for paper medical records to be shared with those who need them, they must be recovered – perhaps from a massive warehouse – then mailed or scanned and sent via email — a time-consuming process. However, the use of electronic medical records allows healthcare professionals to access the information they need almost instantly, whether through the use of email or a specific application or content management system. Healthcare professionals receive the information they need, and patients are treated in a more timely manner.

5. Readability and Accuracy

Paper medical records are often difficult to read and understand, mostly due to the physician’s illegible penmanship.  Likewise, paper records often have insufficient space for healthcare professionals to write all necessary information. Electronic records, on the other hand, are often written with a standardized typeface and terminology that leaves less room for confusion.

Lack of understanding on the part of healthcare providers, along with security-related concerns, have served as deterrents for the adoption of electronic medical records. So what is the key to making a smooth transition from paper records? A secure and experienced hosting provider that can offer clear and compliant data storage in the cloud.

QTS’s compliant hosting services have helped healthcare providers deploy advanced and secure HIPAA-compliant solutions that meet industry demands and provide peace of mind. Our commitment to providing secure and compliant hosting solutions for healthcare providers is evidenced by our new IBX Vault, a highly secure 64,000 sq.ft., 7.3-megawatt data center delivering HIPAA/HITECH colocation, managed hosting and cloud services. 

Do you work for a healthcare provider? What makes you hesitant about a transition to the use of EMR? Or are you on board with a change like this one?

cloud, compliance, HIPAA, HITECH