The digitization of the healthcare industry has changed the way healthcare data is processed. Learn the pros and cons of healthcare database systems here.
Technology in the healthcare sector is growing. Whether you consider Google Glasses or computerized records, healthcare tech is in a state of flux. Medical offices have a high volume of data to manage along with each of their patients. Taking medical records to a digitized form simplifies many tasks for a thriving office or does it?
What are the advantages of taking medical records digitally? Take a look at the pros and cons of healthcare database systems with me.
What is a healthcare database?
In its simplest form, a database is a collection of information called data organized in a systematic way for storage. This data contains various information including health statistics of patients, billing, immunizations, and allergies. These records can be EMRs (electronic medical records) or EHRs (electronic health records). In the U.S. there are many types of databases, but the main type used in the healthcare sector is the OLTP (Online Transaction Processing) database.
On the surface, the advent of healthcare database systems is a great advancement. In fact, 96% of hospitals now have digitized records as compared to only 9% in 2008. Still, many experts say it is a broken system.
Types of Healthcare Databases
As should transparent, each healthcare organization relies on many databases. Group practices, hospitals, and health systems, in particular, have a lot. Each database serves a particular function. Some of the common databases include:
- Practice Management System
- Patient Satisfaction
- Ambulatory Surgery (Outpatient)
- Financial System
- HR System
- Claims Database (integrated, but not managed by the provider’s organization)
This isn’t a complete list, still, it gives you an idea of what’s involved.
Pros of Healthcare Databases
Healthcare databases promote standard record keeping including doctor and staff notes, findings from assessments, among other factors.
Reduction of Errors
The most significant benefit of any healthcare database system is in this area. Computerized orders from doctors have reduced errors related to misunderstood handwriting and transcription mistakes. These records have flags or hard stops when an order not entered in the correct way. Medications for patients are barcoded. This ensures the right medication, right time and right dosage is given to the correct patient.
Healthcare database systems collect many pieces of important information about a patient each time they visit their doctor. With a full load of patients, hospital visits and others a doctor’s time with a patient is limited. Databases let the doctor filter and search for specific information quickly. Allowing him to spend his time focused on the patient.
Transfer of Information
When patients need different types of services in a hospital or different hospitals EMRs help in the exchange of data through the use of a healthcare database.
Improved Patient Satisfaction
A 2015 study by The American Journal of Managed Care published in 2017 found that 98% of patients appreciated SMS notifications when their test results were ready. Of the 200 patients interviewed, all preferred to get their results online.
Improved Privacy and Security for Patients
Paper health records had passed through many hands. Digitized records have alleviated that concern. Records can be shared with restricted rights. Revealing only what is needed for the other department to complete the needed task.
Life Saving Information
Healthcare databases make available life-saving information to doctors and medical workers. In 2014 the National Institutes of Health gave $32 million in grants to researchers to make huge biomedical datasets available. The more databases involved enriches the data doctors can poll to determine the best treatments for patients with similar symptoms.
One of the primary goals of healthcare databases is to assist in the early detection of medical issues. Early and predictive assessments using databases and algorithms have the potential to save lives before they advance into bigger issues.
Healthcare Databases assist in the detection of fraudulent medical claims. This can save the medical insurance sector billions of dollars. Medicare already saved $1 billion from 2014-16.
Cons of Healthcare Databases
Disconnected Healthcare Database Systems
While many healthcare providers are moving to digitized records they are not connected to a central system. This prohibits the consistent electronic transfer of patient health data or other records. Many providers still have to fax, snail mail, or FedEx records on CD-Rom.
While many in the medical sector see the road to medical breakthroughs in the data mining capabilities of healthcare databases, not everyone is on board. Litigation, privacy concerns, regulations and the challenge of collecting and standardizing data are a few concerns facing the sector.
It can be easy to click a button to reduce record-keeping time. Still, these can also leave for oversight by a medical practitioner of clinical findings. Frequent, repetitive documentation can put the medical staff at risk, especially in a busy environment.
With all the advancement benefits of healthcare databases, they have also increased the workload of all medical organizations. There are frustrations, too. Often can’t orders are stalled when the item needed is not yet in the system. This happens, particularly with lesser-used medications and treatments.
Every computer system will have a breakdown. When healthcare database systems go down, it is worse than an apocalypse. Imagine you are the patient with cancer and your doctor can’t order your pain medication. If there is no backup system in place, tech support is going nuts.
EMR and EHR healthcare database systems are not cheap. Their costs go into millions of dollars. Organizations must not only buy the software, but all staff has to take training on how to use it.
While medical technology and healthcare database systems are leading the way to better medical care there is still a way to go to solve some of the concerns. Healthcare technology is changing every day, so I know we will see this will happen.
EMR and EHR databases have the potential to take medicine to a much better place. To stay up to date with the latest developments, sign up for the Health Care Guys Newsletter. Get the latest headlines in your inbox.