Creating and managing electronic health records about the patients is often viewed as significant steps towards improving healthcare delivery services. Electronic Health Records (EHR) refers to collecting comprehensive data about patient's health across hospitals. It includes data about the subject’s medical treatment and health in general.
An EHR is a comprehensive account that stores information about a patient in the context of demography, medical history, medication, allergies, immunization status, laboratory test results, radiology images, and personal information such as age, sex, blood group, height, and weight. In addition to this information, the EHR stores information about health insurance policies and billing information of hospitalization.
The advantages of storing patient's information in a digital format are numerous. Such information is easy to share among various healthcare providers. Keeping track of medication and its outcomes become easier. Sending and receiving alerts during emergencies is possible.
Healthcare providers and patients have also raised some serious concerns about the use of EHRs. Maintaining such private data of patient may lead to unauthorized sharing with a third party causing privacy violations. Also, storage and sharing of EHRs make physicians face legal consequences in the event of malpractices or unintentional negligence's caused by overlooking the medical history of patients. Further, maintaining such a health information system can be costly to small health care service providers, particularly from developing nations.
Despite the potential of EHR to improve the quality of health care services, deployment of EHR-based systems is facing technical challenges, thus restricting its use on a large scale. Few attempts have been made to standardize the EHRs (e.g., openEHR, HL7, SMART, and ASC X12-EDI) to address this problem. Each health care providing institute has its own way of operating and delivering health care services. Hence customizing EHR based services is essential, but often, it is not easy.
In recent times, researchers have developed novel applications by adopting EHRs. Some of such applications include:
To analyse COVID-19 risk outcomes in patients with substance use disorders.
To establish a correlation between COVID-19 infection and mortality in patients with mental disorders.
Advising policymakers about ethical issues in EHR