Although it is not a cure for a deadly disease, electronic medical records will improve the way health care is delivered and probably even save lives.

Electronic medical records make access to records quicker and easier – literally at the touch of a button – for physicians, nurses, therapists and technologists. Even when a patient’s primary care physician and home hospital are thousands of miles away, emergency workers or other providers are able to immediately “pull up” critical patient information. This benefits people who suffer accidents while on vacation, people who live away from their primary care provider for several months of the year, as well as people such as college students who may be far from home for extended periods.

Electronic medical records make treatment safer. There are no more handwritten charts, no more copying information from one piece of paper to another. Much like the lab information system that was installed at Rumford Hospital several years ago, the electronic medical record carries information without the chance of human error from repeated rewriting.

The Medical Records Department soon will no longer be a huge room filled with rack upon rack of patient folders, but a computer memory chip. The electronic medical record stores everything from physicians’ progress notes to blood test results to x-rays to EKGs. And standardized formats produce greater consistency and completeness from provider to provider and from one health care discipline to another.

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