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This article was written by Laura Schwecherl from Possible. In August 2014, ThoughtWorks partnered with Possible to implement Bahmni as the Hospital Management System in the hospital that they run in collaboration with the Government of Nepal. 

Around the globe, our lives are increasingly transformed by technology, with healthcare perhaps one of the most impressive arenas for these changes.

And in many doctor’s offices around the world, with a few clicks of the mouse, your physician can retrieve all of your medical history through the use of an Electronic Medical Record (EMR) system.

Our engineer, Anant, conducting EMR trainings with our nurses. Photo Credit: Possible

EMRs have many benefits that help solve for the patient (a.k.a. making healthcare more accessible and tailored to a patient’s specific needs, and delivering it in a dignified, quality way).

Getting an instant record of a patient’s medical history facilitates improved patient care via more accurate diagnoses and treatments, the ability to instantly share health information to multiple clinicians, and the reduction of errors and inconsistencies found when recording patient health information by paper. An EMR system also opens up avenues for better reporting, research, and quality improvement, and integrates into digital lab, X-ray, and other systems.

The Rise of EMRs

Photo Credit: Possible

The emergence of EMRs and the idea to record patient information digitally began in the 1960s. It rose to new heights in the 1990s after The Institute of Medicine (IOM) published a study that exposed the dangers of paper-based patient record systems and argued for components of EMRs that would lead to better patient care.

However, adoption of EMR systems in the U.S. is still fairly new. It wasn’t until 2005 when the use of EMRs really began to increase; less than half of doctor’s offices have basic EMR systems for their patients. Paradoxically, about 13% of office-based physicians reported having the intention to use them productively to produce “meaningful use.”

Yet the money is still flowing in: as of 2009, U.S. healthcare providers spent $2.18 billion on EMRs, and that number is expected to increase to over $6 billion this year.

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