One goal of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) is to improve patient safety by implementing evidence-based practice interventions, using tools and practices and incorporating health information technology. Patient privacy and security are important topics to examine in nursing informatics. Both privacy and security can impact patients in positive as well as negative ways (Menachemi & Collum, 2011). For example, The Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act of 2009 was instrumental in promoting electronic health records (EHRs). Although EHRs have many benefits, they also present with drawbacks.
The benefits of EHR systems are that they allow for patient information to be transferred between health care professionals in real time. Information included in these systems include patient progress notes, vital signs, past medical history, and radiology reports, among other information. In terms of patient care, EHR systems medical errors are decreased because of the elimination of poor penmanship (Menachemi & Collum, 2011). It also allows for standardization of practice and processes which help eliminate medication errors.In terms of organizational outcomes, EHRs have been examined in inpatient and outpatient settings. Studies on organizational outcomes associated with EHRs have demonstrated increased revenue, improved compliance to legal and regulatory procedures, and improved satisfaction among healthcare workers. At the societal level, the EHRs are instrumental in conducting research because large of amounts of patient data can be accessed and aggregated across populations.
Although the aforementioned benefits of EHR systems are well documented, they are not without their drawbacks. For example, having personal patient health information stored electronically means the information can potentially be accessed by individuals who have no authority, such as is the case with hackers. In addition, there are associated costs with implementing an ongoing EHR system and loss of revenue because paper charts are transferred to electronic files.
- Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) (2011). 30 safe practices for better health care. Retrieved from: www.ahrq/gom
- Menachemi, N., & Collum, T. H. (2011). Benefits and drawbacks of electronic health record systems. Risk Management and Healthcare Policy, 4, 47–55. http://doi.org/10.2147/RMHP.S12985