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Electronic Health Record (EHR) Definition

An electronic health record (EHR) is a computerized official health record for an individual that is created to share information about the individual with other health care providers and organizations – such as laboratories, specialists, medical imaging facilities, pharmacies, emergency facilities, and school and workplace clinics. An EHR contains information from all clinicians involved in a patient’s care. This digitized health information system is expected to improve healthcare efficiency and quality of care and reduce costs.

An EHR includes the following data:

  • Patient demographics

  • Administrative and billing data

  • Progress notes

  • Vital signs

  • Contact information

  • Information about visits to health care professionals

  • Allergies

  • Insurance information

  • Family history

  • Immunization status

  • Information about any conditions or diseases

  • Medical histories

  • Records of hospitalization

  • Information about any surgeries or procedures performed

  • Radiology images

  • Lab and test results, etc.

The benefits of EHRs include:

  • The ability to automatically share and update information about an individual.
  • More efficient storage and retrieval.
  • The ability to share multimedia information.
  • Easier standardization of services and patient care.
  • Provision of decision support systems (DSS) for healthcare professionals.
  • Less redundancy of effort.
  • Lower cost to the medical system once implementation is complete.

The governments of many countries like Norway, Netherlands, U.K., U.S.A., Germany, Australia, France, etc. are working to ensure that all citizens have standardized EHRs. The major barrier for the adoption of EHRs is cost apart from the perceived lack of financial return from investing in them, the technical and logistic challenges involved in installing, maintaining, and updating them, and consumers' and physicians' concerns about the privacy and security of electronic health information.


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