In the health world, one of the most valuable tools that both doctors and patients can use to improve their knowledge about the health of a patient is through their medical records. Medical records contain countless pages of data, diagnoses, and relevant information. Just the medical notes alone are like an encyclopedia of you. Your medical records play a role in how to treat you – and access to those records can change the trajectory of your care.
Medical records play a significant role in a patient’s healthcare and can impact the quality of care that they will receive regardless of the type of provider they are getting care from. Additionally, it is important to acknowledge the fact that our medical records can oftentimes include mistakes, and as a result, healthcare providers are given false information when they are in the process of making critical medical decisions. That said, in this article, the importance and impact of medical records on healthcare will be analyzed and discussed through the eyes of patients and doctors.
First and foremost, medical records are essential in the say of a patient’s health throughout their entire life. Prior medical history has a significant impact on future health decisions, and this remains true at every age. When you believe your records aren’t needed – that’s when they are likely needed the most. For example, let’s say you have a toothache due to an infection. The Dentist prescribed an antibiotic. You are allergic to some antibiotics. Without the knowledge about your allergies or prior medical history, there is no way for the Dentist to ensure the medication they are giving you to cure the infection won’t interact with another medication you are taking or be in the same family as an antibiotic that you may be allergic to. In either case, without access to your records, the Dentist you see is only estimating your best treatment option.
On the other hand, being able to understand our own medical records plays a key role in determining how one can improve their own health. Let’s take that same example down another path. A doctor noted you have an allergy to an antibiotic but never told you they were concerned about that or that you needed to be careful. Maybe you didn’t remember. Either way, having access to your medical records gives you the answers you need on demand.
CMS recently issued a rule that went into effect earlier this year that stated that patients own their medical records and have the right to have them in their possession. For those that don’t know, this is very different from the CARES Act or HIPPA. This has been addressed in many blogs and stories, including by DrOwl. Totally separate from these two rules we are already used to, the new CMS rule makes our medical records our own. Patients can now better understand their health at any given time. Practitioners and doctors can have greater access to the tools they need to provide better care and caregivers have the information they need to give better care as well. The reality is that the CMS rule is a win/win/win proposition, and most companies understand how to empower individuals to take charge of their records in the most user-friendly way possible.
Just as with any other type of document, it is important to understand that errors happen with medical records as well. Mistakes can be and are often made within patient’s medical records all over the world. This leads to a chain of treatment – usually for a myriad of diagnoses – based on sometimes incorrect information. According to Ross Koppel, Ph.D., Health IT thought leader, has found that through his research, nearly 70% of medical records throughout the world have false or incorrect information in them. This happens as a direct result of the multitude of providers patients see in their lifetimes. In the past, patients would primarily see one doctor for almost anything and everything. Today, the average patient will see at least twenty or more doctors in their lifetime. As the wealth of doctors and charts grow, so do the pages in our medical records. You can easily see how one error or two can lead to so many more. By using an application like DrOwl, patients become an additional resource themselves to doctors and healthcare providers, securely storing their information so it is available as needed and in real time. This will help ensure that the information is available when the unexpected occurs so you, as the patient, can get the best possible outcome. Whether you are at the Dentist or in an emergency room, the information you carry with you can make all the difference in the world.