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Communication and Information Technology

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The Healthcare system is changing and physicians are using health information technology to manage personal health information and to improve communication with patients. Information technology allows health providers to transfer information electronically. New technologies such as "electronic health records, computerized provider order entry, clinical decision support system, public networks, and telemedicine have altered cost, quality, accessibility and delivery of health care." (Information Technology in Healthcare, n.d.). This paper will discuss electronic health records and how it affects communication in healthcare.

Electronic Health Records

Electronic health records (EHR) are digital records kept by physicians to keep track of a patient's medical history. These documents are in stored in a database and it makes navigation much safer and more efficient. "EMR's consists of two kinds of records. Records that are older are scanned and stored in a graphic format or pdf. This could be anything from physician notes, x-rays, ultrasounds, and MRI's. (Torrey, T. 2008).


In the past, health records was written on paper and stored in filing cabinets. This system is not efficient because it causes a pile-up of information and there's a chance that the documents could get destroyed. The advantages to electronic health records are:" better documentation, lower cost, better storage, easy access, reduced malpractice, increased medical care, and accurate record keeping." (Artio, C.). Electronic health records are efficient and the information is available at all time which makes communication among providers easier. This improves the continuity of care and it ensures that diagnosis and treatments are done in a timely manner. This is critical when managing patients who are seen by different physicians.


Electronic health records are a better way to store patient's information because it allows accurate record keeping, quality healthcare, and reduced malpractice. There are a few physicians that don't want to welcome change and want to stay with paper medical records. Physicians can work around disadvantages to turn them into positives. The disadvantages to EHR's are: privacy issues, expensive, computer failure, incorrect input, and systems not compatible with each other. (Artio, C.). Electronic health records can cause a breakdown in communication. Patients can talk their primary physician and feel safe about their information being confidential, but when they have to send the information to another physician, this causes the patients to not have that patient-physician relationship.

Impact on Consumers

A survey showed that 4/5 consumers believe that electronic health records would improve the quality of health care and reduce medical errors. An equal amount believe that reviewing the records to determine the best treatment would help all physicians to improve their quality of care. (Consumers Concerned About Security of Health Records, 2005). Even though their was a high level of support, security remains a concern for consumers. Consumers are more likely to support electronic health records if they can control their own information and safequards are in place to protect their privacy.



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