EHR systems are common forms of technology found throughout most hospitals and medical clinics. However, for most of human history, doctors and caretakers recorded patient information manually on paper charts. Read on and learn a brief history of electronic health records and how they revolutionized our healthcare capabilities.
The First Clinic-Wide EHR System (the 1960s)
The Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, famously implemented the world’s first EHR system. This new electronic health record-keeping technology was so expensive in the 1960s that the Mayo Clinic relied on support from the US government to gain access to these devices. For the next two decades, only the largest healthcare facilities had access to EHRs, and the EHRs mostly just handled patient scheduling and billing.
In fact, most hospitals and clinics throughout the world continued to improve their manual charting techniques alongside the introduction of EHR technology. For example, problem-orientedcharting practices became extremely popular in the 1960s. Unlike past methods, this medical record approach involved asking patients significantly more questions to chart a complete health picture rather than simply recording basic information and a current diagnosis. EHR systems didn’t fully adopt problem-oriented charting templates and capabilities until the 1980s.
Advancements & Evolution
By the ’80s, Many clinics were tired of physically storing paper documents and sending them to other facilities via fax. This practice was laborious and time-consuming and ultimately detracted from the overall quality of patient care. Luckily, EHR technology had become portable, affordable, and, most importantly, accessible for public and private medical practices.
EHRs were now stored in computers and could effectively organize countless patient records relating to billing, scheduling, healthcare, and more. At the same time, related healthcare industries, such as pharmaceuticals and insurance companies, began accepting EHR systems as well. This adaptation across all healthcare industries helped propel EHR technology advancements. Notably, developers tweaked EHRs to service many practices, including urgent care, rehab, and more to further improve the technology.
The Future of EHR Systems
So, what exactly does the future of EHR systems in healthcare facilities entail? Today, hospital and clinic EHRs benefit from advanced technologies and the internet to provide patients with error-free, effective medical care. Additionally, EHRs are increasingly accessible for non-hospital individuals, allowing better sharing of medical information between doctors, patients, insurance companies, lab testing sites, and more.
Implementing artificial intelligence within healthcare EHRs is the most likely evolution for this technology. Most notably, electronic healthcare systems have practically eliminated the need for traditional paper charting (although this practice is still beneficial in certain applications and situations). Ultimately, EHR systems will continue to be an essential form of support and empowerment for medical staff and patients alike!
Understanding the brief – albeit dynamic – history of electronic health records in healthcare applications highlights the importance of technology within medical industries. Innovations such as EHRs help heal and care for societies and ensure an ideal quality of life for everyone!