Benefits of Electronic Health Records: Pros and Cons

Electronic Health Records: What are they, and their benefits. Health Records
July 5, 2022
6 minutes Read
Share On

Did you know that during COVID-19, we saw a rise in telehealth solutions?

According to the HHS (US Department of Health and Human Services), telehealth visits significantly increased during the pandemic. In 2020 telehealth consultations rose from 840,000 in 2019 to 52.7 million. Also, 92% of telehealth consults happened from the comfort of the patients’ homes, making doctor’s visits more convenient than ever.

We use telehealth when booking and consulting with doctors, fulfilling prescriptions, or ordering at-home lab tests remotely (among other digitally offered medical services).

With the shift towards using telehealthcare more commonly, you might’ve noticed that your health or medical records have become digitized.

An increasingly sought-after service, an electronic health record offers more streamlined access to your information.

But let’s get started with the basics.

What is a health record?

Your health record is a personal collection of important medical history and information.

What do my health records include? They include:

  • All medical conditions (past or present).
  • Any illnesses or treatments.
  • A chronology of events that affected you during your care, like an allergic reaction or symptom improvement.
  • Personal information, including your name, DOB (date of birth), address, and applicable health insurance numbers.

In this blog, we’ll go over a couple of key points (among others):

  • What are electronic health records?
  • What are the benefits of electronic health records?
  • How to get health records?
  • How to check your health records online?

What are electronic health records?

An electronic health record provides you with a digital record of your health info. They contain the same data on a paper chart, but a lot more is included, too!

An EHR can include:

  • Past medical history.
  • Vital signs.
  • Diagnoses.
  • Personal progress notes.
  • Prescriptions.
  • Allergies.
  • Immunization dates.
  • Types of immunizations given.
  • Lab results.
  • Imaging Reports.

They can also include useful information, such as insurance policy information (if applicable) and personal wellness devices.

What’s the difference between an electronic medical record (EMR) and an electronic health record (EHR)?

While both terms are often used interchangeably, there are some key differences.

An electronic medical record is a digital version of a chart and is not designed to be shared beyond the clinic unless specifically requested.

An electronic health record contains all the important information you’d find on your chart plus more. It provides streamlined sharing among your relevant healthcare providers, labs, and pharmacies.

What are the pros and cons?

To understand the benefits of electronic health records and the drawbacks, we need to have a look at the issue of privacy.

A person’s health data, traditionally stored in paper form but now increasingly in digital format, and it’s protected under several regulations. Some protective regulatory measures put in place include:

  • PIPEDA in Canada
  • HIPPA in the USA
  • GDPR in Europe

These regulations protect the security and privacy of your sensitive information and help ensure that you’re comfortable participating in research, when applicable, without fearing that your confidential data won’t fall into the wrong hands or be made public. Overall, PIPEDA, HIPAA, and GDPR protect both individuals and society as a whole.

What does this have to do with the benefits of electronic health records and their shortcomings? Well, with an increasing amount of healthcare information being gathered, storing health and medical records in a digital format has become more and more practical. However, sharing people’s health data between and within medical organizations can create security issues.

Let’s have a look at both sides of the coin.

What are the benefits of electronic health records?

What are the benefits of electronic health records?

  1. Easier to coordinate healthcare. 

As we’ve mentioned a little earlier, your electronic health record can be easily, securely, and quickly transferred between your authorized healthcare providers, making your care more efficiently coordinated.

For instance, your digitized health records can be conveniently shared with organizations and clinicians such as:

  • Labs.
  • Specialists.
  • Imaging facilities.
  • Pharmacists and pharmacies.
  • Emergency or urgent care facilities.
  • Workplace clinics.
  • School clinics.

2. Less room for human error. 

The paper-based method for storing your health and medical records makes unauthorized document access easier without realizing it.

Think about a medical office on a busy day. An employee could unknowingly leave a patient’s file out longer than necessary instead of immediately returning it to the filing area.

Also, if your information is accidentally misfiled, someone who’s not meant to read it can, or it might be lost for a while, leaving it and you vulnerable.

If you’ve ever been working from a cafe, and you get up to use the restroom and forget to lock your screen, you know how easily a passerby can view your work.

But with an electronic health record system in place, you can control who has access to the data and when.

  1. Increased security with encryption. 

A hardcopy record is more easily exposed, allowing anyone in close contact with it to transcribe, copy, or fax its contents. In contrast, you receive security knowing that robust encryption methods can protect your electronic records.

Furthermore, your healthcare provider must do everything to comply with HIPAA and other privacy and security regulations, further bolstering the encrypted document’s security.

Sadly, an example of lost paper documents occurred when the Jackson Health System received a two-million-dollar fine because it lost paper health records of almost 800 patients.

More pros that positively impact your healthcare experience with an electronic health app:

According to e-health Ontario, an electronic health record offers patients the following benefits:

  • Usually, electronically stored data is updated in real-time, allowing physicians and healthcare staff to act quicker.
  • You won’t have to repeat your medical history over and over when visiting a new healthcare provider.
  • You gain more control and transparency over your healthcare.
  • Having better access to your information means that you can have more informed and useful conversations with your healthcare provider.
  • Your records are in one place, alleviating confusion and time wasted tracking them down.

You might want to consider a mobile healthcare app for convenient storage and retrieval of health records.

To facilitate the growing demand for telehealth solutions, we created the mobile application Ravkoo Health as a way to bring you access to your online health records (among many other medical-related benefits). On this app, your records are:

  • Protected by HIPPA.
  • Located in one place for easy accessibility.
  • Available for you to reference at any time.

Cons of electronic health records:

While we’re moving into a more centralized and accessible form of data storage, we’re still learning about the cons, but here are a few:

  1. Unauthorized access can be gained by hackers or research or clinical staff.
  2. Ransomware attacks occur when malware is used to encrypt the data and hold it for ransom.
  3. Data being traded, used, or sold without patient consent.

Main takeaway: In the past, health records were in paper form, which technically works but can create some issues for people. When the records are in physical files, it takes a little more leg work to stay organized, call offices, and remember past visit details.

However, with telehealth taking off as it has, digitized health records are becoming more and more common.

How to get health records?

You might be asking, “How can I find my health records?” These documents are essential to keep your well-being organized and prioritized.

To get your health record, you’ll first want to understand how to request it from your medical provider.

Here are tips to get you started:

  1. Check if your healthcare provider has an online portal.
  2. Learn what an online portal is. An online portal can allow you to do different things like book appointments and look at lab results.
  3. Ask the office if your immunization list is located on the patient portal.

Also, did you know that eight out of ten patients who actively used their online healthcare provider’s portal found it convenient and straightforward?

What if the information you need isn’t readily available? Try the following ways to contact your healthcare provider to learn more:

  • Check out their website: You can sometimes find the information you need about where to locate your health records in the Contact Us section on your healthcare provider’s website. It may direct you to an email address, phone number, or the patient portal.
  • Phone or visit the office: Call or visit your healthcare provider’s office to get a run down on how to get your health records. Often, the administrative staff knows how to release your health records.

FAQs Related To Electronic Health Records

Q: Are my health records safe?

A: Building on what was previously mentioned, there’s no 100 percent way to ensure your health records are completely safe and secure. Both, paper and electronic records pose different issues that can challenge the security of your documents.

While paper records can fall into the wrong hands because of human error, electronic records can be susceptible to hackers.

Also, an electronic health record isn’t inherently safe or unsafe. However, those strictly secured by HIPAA best practices are less likely to encounter a security breach.

Similarly, If your electronic health record is properly encrypted, the data should be unreadable even if the information is improperly accessed.

Q: Who controls my health records?

A: Ultimately, you control your health records; however, when they’re in a digital format, you gain much easier access to them when and where you need them.

Q: How to get health records easily?

If you have regular health records at your doctor’s office, you’ll have to ask your office for any information you need. But if your health information is in digital format, you’ll be able to access it through a portal, such as a healthcare app or medical website.

Q: How to check your health records online? 

This question comes down to the healthcare provider you’re working with. If you visit an in-person doctor’s office, your records may be offered online.

For instance, if you have lab work done at a clinic, your results may appear on a website portal for your use and be forwarded to your physician. So ask your healthcare office if and how to check your health records online.

If you use a healthcare app, such as Ravkoo Health, your healthcare records are often available and centralized from within the app itself.

Your health data matters because having access to it gives you more control over your information and wellness. Remember to ask your healthcare provider as many questions as possible about your electronic health record’s security, accessibility, and digital location. Knowledge keeps you in the driver’s seat.

Related blogs
Back to all Blogs
Diet & Nutrition
Keto-Friendly Snack Ideas
Health & Lifestyle
Difference Between Panic Attack Vs Anxiety Attack
Health & Lifestyle
Behavioral Health Vs. Mental Health
Diet & Nutrition
Low Fiber Diet Foods
Back to all Blogs