It’s 2018 and everything is going digital. Conversations, books, and paperwork are all making the transition. It’s natural, then, that people in the medical field are wondering when medical records will be available digitally. Although most health networks use digital records for their own purposes, patients are often not allowed access to these. This is a problem that should be fixed, and these are the biggest reasons why.
No doctor is perfect. People with chronic or severe conditions, such as cancer, may want a second opinion on their condition and treatment options. Having records would make it easier for the patient to see where both doctors are coming from and compare notes. It would also save the trouble of having to get records transferred, if they are even handed over at all.
People with lifestyle-changing illnesses are going to have a treatment plan. Usually, a doctor will write down or print out the plan, and the patient may lose a vital piece of information due to the hard copies. Instead, it would be useful to have a digital copy of the treatment plan directly on the patient’s computer. The doctor could include notes on what the effects of each step are, and the patient could have a portal that allows them to keep track of their progress and symptoms as time goes on. The biggest change between current treatment plans and digital ones would be the coordination between the doctor and patient, outside of the office.
Have you ever had a doctor question whether you are being honest about symptoms? Some doctors are skeptical around patients and may assume health before sickness. This can cause serious problems, and could lead to complications or death. Having access to your doctor’s notes will keep them accountable for taking you seriously. On the patient side, doctors will be able to hold patients accountable for making progress toward healthy behaviors. In my previous point, I mentioned that patients could have digital treatment plans. This would make patients responsible for implementing good habits and decreasing negative ones, which could take some pressure off of doctors for curing someone who does not want to help.
Digital records do come with some downsides. Security would be a problem, primarily on the patient’s end. Doctors could also have more work to do to upload their notes and treatment plans to the system. However, even with these negative points, digital records have the potential to bring positivity to the healthcare system.