Automated hospital information systems can help improve quality of care because of their far-reaching capabilities. An example is the HELP system, one of the first information systems in a hospital to combine the use of computers for storing and transferring information with using them for giving advice to solve clinical problems.
In addition to alerting physicians to abnormal and changing clinical values, computers can generate reminders for physicians. For complex problems, computer workstations can integrate patient records, research plans, and knowledge databases.
Computers and databases can be used to compare expected results with actual results and to help physicians make decisions.
The lives of patients can be improved if they use computer systems to obtain information, make difficult decisions, and contact experts and support groups.
When a physician orders a test by computer, it can automatically display information that promotes cost-effective testing and treatment.
Physicians ordered 14 percent fewer tests per outpatient visit when using computer workstations at a large primary care facility in Indianapolis. Workstations showed prior test results, predictions of abnormal results, and test prices.
The chief disadvantage to computer-based medical records is privacy concerns: can records be hacked, illegally downloaded, lost in a crash, etc. Providers of online records go to great lengths to assure security and confidentiality.
The disadvantages to paper records are the reason computer-based records are created: the doctors’ handwriting is not legible and there are pharmacy errors or treatment errors which can be dangerous; a doctor does not know a patient has already had a test done at another doctor’s office or hospital and orders it again, causing insurance or the patient to pay twice for a test that was needed once; a hospital can monitor patient results, in aggregate, to see how well the hospital is doing; in some situations the patient can see his/her own records and correct some errors such as birth date etc.
I’d rather have my own records computer-based