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I’m writing a research paper on electronic medical records and if they improve the quality of care?

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Electronic medical records, which refer to medical records that are not only stored in electronic systems (which includes almost all medical records in the modern world, with the exception of some medical records maintained in non-industrialized nations), but that are accessible to multiple healthcare providers across different platforms.  The question is whether these records are able to improve quality of care by allowing healthcare providers to get a full picture of a patient’s medical history, as well as any presenting concerns or issues, as soon as the patient presents for medical treatment.  It would seem like the answer to that question is an obvious yes, because a person’s medical history may be as important as their presenting symptoms in looking at the root cause of medical problems.  However, there may be some issues that make the answer more complex.

Looking at the benefits, electronic medical records: help provides know what medications or allergies patients have, which can prevent adverse reactions; expose potential safety issues before they occur; provide details about a patient’s medical history even if the patient is non-responsive or otherwise unable to give details about their medical history.  They can also help caregivers detect problems that patients might not report whether from intentional efforts to hide them or because the patients do not put together seemingly unconnected symptoms.  This can help with the diagnosis of frequently overlooked diseases such as autoimmune disorders, as well as help with identification of patients who appear to be med-seeking for addiction purposes. 

However, it cannot be ignored that electronic medical records are alarming, from a privacy perspective, for many patients.  If patients are hesitant to seek care for an issue because they worry it will disqualify them for later medical coverage or have some other longstanding impact, then these pervasive records may actually harm overall patient outcomes.

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