Adding computers or going electronic can make everything from billing to keeping track of patient records quicker in a hospital, but computers also bring disadvantages to the hospital environment. As technology and computers become more advanced, additional elements will appear in the hospital setting, but whether the advances are really improvements is open for some debate.
One of the biggest drawbacks of adding computers to hospitals is the cost. Computers cost money, and a large hospital needs many computers to keep the system running smoothly. Creating a network to transfer medical records or keep track of billing is an additional initial cost. Unlike paper records, which simply require a few more copies, electronic record keeping requires constant upkeep of computers, computer software and other electronic elements, which can cost even more.
If your doctor or hospital is switching to computers or electronic record keeping, you're probably worried about the security of your medical records. Paper records are kept in a doctor's office or a warehouse, but once computers are added to a hospital, electronic record keeping typically follows. Once electronic record keeping is begun, medical information is usually added to a closed computer network, but as long as an Internet connection comes into the network, the system is vulnerable to outside sources, opening the debate to questions about patient privacy and medical record security.
Lack of Standardization
From a hospital point of view, one of the biggest disadvantages of adding computers and electronic records to a hospital is the lack of standardization through the medical field. Different hospitals use different shorthand abbreviations or symbols on medical records than others. Even the codes called out during emergencies don't always mean the same thing in every hospital. If a medical record is transferred from another hospital or the system becomes open so hospitals can share information, the lack of standardization in hospital notes and records could cause problems when it comes to a medical professional's understanding of the medical record.
- British Medical Journal: Computers in Clinical Practice
- American Academy of Medical Administrators: Advantages and Disadvantages of the Electronic Medical Record
- Oxford Journals: Rheumatology: Computer-assisted Learning in Undergraduate and Postgraduate Rheumatology Education
- Oakland University: An Introduction to Using Computer Simulation in Healthcare
- Hospital Files image by PinkSony from Fotolia.com