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The electronic health record - the heart of healthcare communication

April 9, 2021

It is the central element of networked healthcare - the electronic health record (German: elektronische Patientenake, or ePA for short). All of a person's medical data is to be available in it in bundled form. The ePA was introduced in Germany in January 2021. Since then, all people with statutory health insurance (SHI) have been entitled to use the ePA, which is provided free of charge as an app by health insurers or can be activated with a PIN via the electronic health card. And it is not only in Germany that the healthcare system is during the process of digitization: In Austria the electronic health record, there electronic health record (ELGA) is already in use.

Are there any pre-existing conditions, allergies, intolerances? Is the patient taking medication that complicates a course of treatment or precludes another medication? What examinations have already been performed and when? All this information is stored in the electronic patient file, bringing several benefits at once.

Advantages for doctors

Often, important medical information about a patient is already available, but scattered in a variety of places. For example, some documents are with the family doctor, others with specialists, and still others may have been recorded during a stay in hospital and filed in files there. Thus, a complete overview is never possible without further ado. So, when a patient visits a doctor, important data must be retrieved again and again, or requested from other medical players. This costs time, which is not always available in many medical cases. Through the ePA and with the numerous other applications of the Telematics Infrastructure, the doctor can look at all the important information in a few seconds, close the information gaps and thus take the best possible course of treatment. In addition, incorrect medication and the risk of causing harm with incorrect treatment are prevented. The ePA thus enables more effective patient treatment than was previously possible.

A study1 also shows that physicians have high hopes for the electronic health record, with 9 out of 10 hospital physicians stating that they hope the ePA will make collaboration between physicians easier and provide greater transparency for all involved.

Benefits for patients

However, the ePA not only benefits physicians, but also patients: it enables users to take responsibility for their own health data. Thanks to it, patients themselves become part of the treatment team and can take an active role in their own healthcare. It is possible to access and manage one's own health data online at any time. Every access to the record is logged and traceable. Thanks to the electronic health record, the patient is always in control of his or her own data and decides who can access which information and when. The stored health data, such as the electronic medication plan (eMP) or the emergency data management (NFDM), can save lives in an emergency. For example, if there is a situation where the patient cannot answer questions about pre-existing conditions, medications taken or allergies themselves.

Bye Bye Stacks of Paper - Hello Future!

Many work processes that were previously analog or paper-based can be digitized using the ePA. This means that information can not only be accessed at any time but is also no longer lost due to the elimination of transport channels. Doctor's letters, findings, diagnoses, therapy measures, treatment reports and electronic medication plans are stored and retrievable in one place.

Step by step, the electronic patient file is becoming established in Germany. Following its launch in January, all SHI-accredited physicians must be able to store information in a patient's electronic medical record from July 1, 2021. From 2022, the maternity passport, vaccination card, children's examination booklet and dental bonus booklet will also be stored there and can be accessed at any time.

Source:

https://www.bitkom.org/Presse/Presseinformation/Corona-beschleunigt-die-Digitalisierung-der-Medizin-mit-unterschiedlichem-Tempo

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