Empowerment in Healthtech: EHRs and Their Virtues

Electronic health records or EHRs—also often styled eHRs and occasionally considered interchangeable with EMRs or electronic medical records—represent a type of technology that could dramatically improve healthcare in the near future. Despite that, they are still not as well-known (or used, for that matter) as they should be.

EHRs are exactly as the name suggests. An EHR program is software intended to keep pertinent data about a person’s medical history, diagnoses, lab tests, and the like in a convenient digital format. While many now consider them equal to EMRs, others distinguish between the two by noting EMRs as having more limited use.

To be precise, some consider EMRs to be largely used specifically by medical professionals or institutions. EMR use, according to this distinction, is generally local to a particular health professional, body, or institution. By contrast, EHRs are often designed to be records that may be accessed by patients themselves—within the limits of each individual’s privacy, naturally. Furthermore, most EHRs have information sharing built into them, whereas EMRs in this definition are concerned solely with medical data storage.

EHRs therefore represent a watershed of sorts in healthtech. Whereas EMRs were more likely to be used to keep and share information within a practice, clinic, or hospital, EHRs allow that information to be shared between two different hospitals or with the patient himself. And in healthcare as in most other fields, knowledge is power.

How EHRs Empower Both Sides of the Patient-Doctor Equation

EHRs empower both patients and doctors when they work right by making information more easily accessible. The ability to act on a health condition is something one can only have if one knows as much as possible about that health condition. Patients who understand how medical professionals are evaluating their condition are in a much better position to work on their own health than ones who do not. They appreciate their own agency, the very fact that they can participate in the effort.

EHRs also empower the health professionals because they make it easier for them to treat patients. They get the patient’s health record more easily as well as monitor them. They can respond more promptly to developments, make diagnoses on more solid foundations, and even send reminders to critical patients more effectively.

Another empowering aspect of most EHRs nowadays—especially ones that have patient-facing versions—is that they often include doctor/clinic lookup as well as booking abilities. India’s Practo, for example, as well as the Philippines’ SeriousMD both supply these features to their users. This is important, because doing so concentrates most of the practical information one needs to look out for one’s health in a single program.

Consider the power it places in the palm of your hand if you have one of the many EHR apps nowadays—and given that many of these are now free (the abovementioned SeriousMD is an example), you may well have one. Not only can you see, receive, and even share your medical data with someone else (another doctor during a second-opinion consultation, for example) at will, without having to go to your primary physician to request the data, but you can also find other physicians or specialists and even make appointments with them from a single interface.

All of this means that EHRs are definitely worth a look for anyone interested in healthtech and improved quality of life. They may not be accessible to all yet, but things are changing. Even governments have been running initiatives to spread EHR usage and systems for years. With any luck, EHR usage can spread and greater efficacy may be achieved in healthcare the world over due to them.

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