Guaranteed EMR Benefits – Accessibility of Charts

Posted on May 16, 2009 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of and John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

I previously posted about the Guaranteed EMR benefit of legible charts. I told you this would be a series on the benefits of EMR and so here’s a link that will constantly update with the benefits of an EMR.

The second guaranteed benefit of an EMR is the accessibility of charts. This really encompasses a number of issues with paper charts.

Issue 1: Chart stored in Medical Records
I must admit that I’m always amazed at how quickly medical records staff can find a paper chart. However, just the fact that you have to call medical records to have them pull the patient chart takes time. Depending on your clinic, you probably have appointments and can pull the chart the day before and have it ready. However, this is much more difficult for those clinics that allow for patient walk ins. Not to mention when medical records staff are out sick or on vacation.

Plus, let’s not forget phone calls. How nice is it to be able to just pull up a patient’s record in the EMR while you’re on the phone with them. Try doing that in the paper world. Certainly is possible, but definitely takes more time to get the chart.

Issue 2: Where’s the chart?
Let me bargain to say that even the most organized practices have often had a paper chart go missing. I’m not talking about missing missing. I’m talking about a nurse, doctor, or medical records staff running around the clinic to see where the patients chart was placed last. Let me just list off a few possibilities: doctor’s desk, in the room (on the door), nurses station, unread lab results box, etc etc etc. Certainly there are ways to mitigate this problem, but it’s still a challenge.

Of course, the beauty of an EMR is that you never have to send out a search party to find a chart again. Just type in the patients name and you can pull up their chart. Another major time saver.

Issue 3: Multiple Users
I’m sure the nurses reading this will really appreciate this benefit. How many times a day does the nurse and the doctor both want to do their charting at the same time. Or maybe they just want to have that chart available so that when they have a free second they can do some charting. Most EMR support at least some ability for multiple people to view, access and add to the chart note at the same time.

Issue 4: Taking Charts Home
Maybe some doctors just really liked taking a stack of paper charts home. They love the smell of the paper chart and the print between their fingers. For everyone else, remote access to an EMR is so much nicer than having to run around with a stack of paper charts. Not only is it awkward to carry the charts, but misplacing the paper chart is a real possibility.

Broadband wireless connections are getting really cheap these days and provide a real benefit to be able to access your full chart electronically from almost anywhere. The time savings of figuring which charts to take with you is also a nice benefit. Not to mention the unplanned visit or call.

At the end of the day, EMR software really excels at making the chart easily accessible and can be a huge time saver for those utilizing an EMR.