How Can Healthcare Providers and Patients Get the Most out of EMRs?

After more than a decade since the introduction of the technology, electronic medical records (EMR) systems, sometimes called electronic health records (EHR) systems, have not gained wide acceptance. Neither medical providers nor patients have fully embraced the idea of medical records vaults in cyberspace, though adoption of EMR is slowly gaining ground. In house, or homegrown, systems have given way to integrated hardware/software products at all levels of healthcare practice. In use today at hospitals, clinics, laboratories, and practitioners’ offices, these systems have grown substantially in recent years.


Nonetheless, both medical providers and their patients have reservations about EMR. Physicians are reluctant to have their charts, notes, and prognoses in full view of anyone who has privileges to view that data – namely, other medical practitioners and patients. Patients fear any database containing confidential personal medical information may be subject to abuse or corruption. The very real possibility that erroneous information may enter the system, and the virtual certainty that any system can be cracked by hackers, is of no little concern to patients. Physicians are concerned that patients with full access to records may go on exploratory missions to find evidence of malpractice.


Some proponents of EMR envision every public hospital in the U.S. participating in electronic medical record systems by 2015; As their popularity grows, increasingly these information technology systems are being viewed as a necessity. This application of IT certainly has some advantages for both medical providers and patients.

Advantages for Medical Providers

• EMR will reduce medical records costs in the long term: The installation and startup costs for an EMS system are high, but the total cost of the system over time is less than operating any manual system of records keeping.
• Comprehensive medical records can eliminate the need for repetitive and unnecessary testing: EMR systems collect test results from all sources, thus avoiding the need for tests that have already been performed.
• Accurate medical information is instantly available: Information stored in EMS systems is less prone to human error and it can be retrieved quickly and easily. Data search and retrieval time using manual filing systems cannot compare.
• EMS systems make medical records available anywhere, anytime: Physicians and emergency medical personnel can access patient medical records from anywhere using smart handheld devices. This access to patient records enables treatment no matter where the patient or medical provider may be.
• Collective data may be sorted, filtered, and analyzed: EMR data is stored such that it may be accessed by certain search criteria for comparative analysis, trending, and other statistical computation. EMR systems also allow physicians to order diagnostic tests and view the results on-line.

Advantages for Patients

• Interaction with EMS helps to reduce costs: When patients are more knowledgeable participants in their own care, there is a good chance their health costs will go down. When they become involved in their own care they tend to engage in preventive strategies to reduce the complications of chronic disabilities.
• EMR promotes improved diagnosis and treatment: Patients’ interaction with EMR systems gets faster decision making responses from medical professionals.
• Remote access to EMR can save a patient’s life: When doctors and other medical providers are able to access complete patient records from any location, decisions regarding emergency care are made with better data, there is less guesswork, and chances of misdiagnosis are greatly reduced.

Medical Practice Advantages of EMR Systems

For healthcare providers and practitioners there are numerous other advantages of implementing electronic medical records systems:

• Instant transfer of patient data from department to department or provider to provider
• Digital records require no vast storage space as manual patient records vaults do
• Medical providers can serve a greater numbers of patients per day because of increased productivity
• Operational costs are reduced as the need for transcription services and overtime is eliminated
• Electronic medical records can grow with the practice without increased space requirements
• Systems can be linked with electronic prescription systems (eRx)
• The bottom line of a healthcare provider is enhanced by more accuracy and efficient patient billing


The Federal Government has established incentive programs to encourage the use of EMR which requires adherence to a comprehensive set of criteria for improving patient care and access to personal health records. The criteria are called Meaningful Use. Implementation of the Meaningful Use parameters is costly and time consuming, even though the costs are covered by incentives.

The Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) has observed that EMR adoption rates have been “slower than expected in the United States” when compared to adoption in other developed countries. A key reason they cited in 2009 was a lack of efficiency and usability of EMR systems [in use then]. Improvements in the past couple of years has improved the perception of EMR systems.

Physicians are vigorously embracing mobile technologies such as smartphones and tablets, according to a 2012 survey by Physicians Practice. Fully 62 percent of respondents said they use mobile devices in the performance of their jobs. The advantages of instant access to patient records at any time and any place are clear, but there are still concerns about the security of this information.

Physicians and medical practitioners view access to data in the EMS system much differently than patients. In a survey of providers by Accenture in 2012, only a third (31 percent) of doctors thought patients should have full access to their medical records, 65 percent felt patients should only have limited access, and four percent believe patients should not have any access to on-line records at all.


Full participation in any interactive global medical recordkeeping system is still an unfulfilled vision, but it is gradually evolving. Implementation of the CMS Meaningful Use requirements is a forceful nudge in this direction. To date, less than 20 percent of patients access the portals to EMS. Many patients exhibit a prevailing fear of “Big Brother” visibility of highly confidential and personal information, and with good reason. Since 2009, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) reports the health records of more than 18 million American citizens have been breached. EMR systems must improve on this track record if there is to be full acceptance of this technology by patients. Medical professionals stand to benefit the most from use of EMR systems and they will certainly endorse the methodology more with time.

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What Does a Comparative Effectiveness Researcher Do?

researchComparative effectiveness researchers play a vital role in the research and development of new medications and therapeutic techniques.

As an integral part of the healthcare industry, the research they handle and conduct is of prime importance to the development of drugs that are on target with market needs. Additionally, consumers rely on findings produced and disseminated by such researchers, to which they would not otherwise have access.

Breaking Down the Role

These researchers provide information about the efficacy, dangers, and benefits of treatment options in order to both inform pharmaceutical manufacturers and advise consumers, so that they may make informed choices about their healthcare. There are generally two ways in which researchers compile their findings.

1. They review the existing data available for different groups of people from previously conducted clinical trials, and compile any other research pertinent to their focus.

2. They conduct novel research designed to explore the efficacy of a given health care option, medicine, test or procedure in order to derive original evidence. Upon this evidence, they then level an assessment intended to inform consumers, drug companies or health care professionals (

Comparative researchers utilize a broad range of sources and techniques of analysis to arrive at their final assessment. But their role doesn’t end with analysis. They then synthesize their findings into a format that is readily understandable and useable by consumers, health care workers, policy makers, and insurance companies. This career requires that a researcher be able to

• Take note of new methods and treatments emerging in medicine

• Review and digest current research available

• Generate novel research and tools of analysis

• Note gaps in current theory and practice

• Train researchers to perform clinical analysis

• Render findings intelligible to all interested parties

• Communicate findings with strong interpersonal skills

Seeing the Need

Some might question why such a profession is even needed, but if the issues are clearly examined, the need becomes manifest. Comparative effectiveness researchers act as bridges between the healthcare industry and the consumer public. As well, they act as interpreters of complex and sometimes confusing scientific language. Their roles in both interpreting existing research and generating new data require that they be trained in hard science applications and statistical interpretation necessary to engage in quantitative and qualitative analysis. And yet, they must also be proficient in the language arts and anthropology, because they must know how to best present their findings to various groups of people with different needs and agendas.

People who engage in such research are vital for several reasons. They often act as a barrier between potentially harmful treatment options and an unsuspecting consumer public. When such research is not conducted to answer questions about efficacy or potential negative aspects of a treatment option, this constitutes bad science and negligence. Given this consideration, it is hardly surprising that there are career opportunities in both public sector and private sector applications.

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Earn Your Health Science Degree From One of These Top Ten Online Schools

In order to advance in a career as a health technician or nurse it can be beneficial to complete a health science degree program like one of the many mentioned on this list of TOP 10 BEST ONLINE HEALTH SCIENCE DEGREE PROGRAMS. Benefits from acquiring a degree include an increase in earnings and skills. This health science degree is most interesting to those already working within the healthcare industry who wish to continue moving forward in their line of work.

Schools were selected for this top ten list according to the quality of education they offer. Each school’s reputation and accreditation was also taken into consideration before being placed on the list.

1. Arizona State University – Bachelor of Applied Science in Health Sciences
Cost: $442.00 per credit hour

2. Indiana University-Perdue University Indianapolis – Bachelor of Science in Health Sciences
Cost: $254.10 per credit for residents – $936.00 for non-residents

3. University of Missouri – Bachelor of Health Sciences
Cost: $269.40 per credit for residents and $470.30 for non-residents

4. University of South Dakota – B.S. in Health Sciences
Cost: $289.00 per credit

5. Bellevue University – Bachelor of Arts in Health Science
Cost: $370.00 per credit

6. Nova Southeastern University – Bachelor of Health Science
Cost: $650.00 per credit hour

7. University of West Florida – Bachelor of Science in Health Sciences
Cost: $214.95 per credit hour for residents and $644.34 for non-residents

8. Keiser University – B.S. Health Science
Cost: $15,064 per academic year

9. South University – B.S. Health Science
Cost: $15,910 per year

10. Thomas Edison State College – B.S. Health Science
Cost: $5,435 for residents and $7,950.00 for non-residents

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Choose From the Top Online Schools for Emergency Management Degrees

emergency mgmtIt makes sense to get an online emergency management degree with the increasing amount of jobs in the field of emergency response. The benefit of a degree is that one can advance in their career. Those wishing to move into an administration job would also be interested in the emergency management degree program.

The schools on this list were chosen for offering top online emergency management degree programs. They are designed for people working within the field who wish to move into an administration position.

All of these schools are regionally accredited. Each university mentioned is well respected in the emergency management field.

1. University of North Carolina Online–Western Carolina University – Bachelor of Science in Emergency and Disaster Management
Cost: $133.78 per credit for residents ; $458.01 for non-residents

2. Colorado State University–Global Campus – Bachelor’s Degree in Emergency Management
Cost: $350.00 per credit

3. Jacksonville State University – Bachelor of Science in Emergency Management with a Homeland Security Minor
Cost: $265.00 per credit for residents; $530.00 for non-residents

4. Drexel University – Online Certificate in Emergency Management
Cost: $680.00 per credit

5. SUNY (State University of New York) Canton – Bachelor of Technology in Emergency Management
Cost: $5,570.00 per year for full-time residents; $14,820.00 for non-residents. $232.00 per credit for part time residents; $618.00 for non-residents

6. University of Central Missouri – Bachelor of Science in Crisis Disaster Management
Cost: $209.60 per credit for residents; $419.20 for non-residents

7. West Texas A&M University – Bachelor of Applied Arts and Sciences in Emergency Management Administration
Cost: $3,405.00 per semester for residents ; $3,855.00 for non-residents

8. Arkansas Tech University – Bachelor of Science in Emergency Management
Cost: $187.00 per credit for residents; $374.00 for non-residents

9. University of Alaska-Fairbanks – Bachelor of Emergency Management
Cost: $165.00 to $383.00 per credit according to course level

10. National Labor College – Bachelor of Science in Emergency Readiness and Response Management.
Cost: $270.00 per credit for AFL-CIO Union Member/Family. $325.00 per credit for non AFL-CIO Member/Family. $270.00 per credit for Working American Member. $480.00 per credit for non-union member.

Source: Top 10 Best Online Emergency Management Degree Programs

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Ten Outstanding Schools for an Online Masters in Nursing Degree

In terms of quality control and patient care, nurses play vital roles in hospitals, medical facilities, nursing homes, mental health centers, and schools everywhere. These healthcare professionals enjoy an array of specialty areas in which they can acquire employment, and those areas include mental health, oncology, obstetrics, neonatology, and cardiology to name a few. For the most part, the highest paid nursing professionals possess both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in their field. It is ultimately through a Masters in Nursing Degree that individuals obtain the greatest earning potentials, and programs for those degrees can be completed in 24 months or less.

Fortunate for nursing students, many of the nation’s top colleges and universities presently include an online Master’s in Nursing Degree program that ranks among the most affordable, comprehensive, and distinguished options available today. All of the schools that are reviewed below were selected based on those desirable attributes.

Without a doubt, time and money are priceless to students who wish to acquire advanced degrees. All of the online Masters in Nursing Degree programs listed below can be completed in fewer than two years and are reasonably priced.

1. Johns Hopkins University- Master of Science in Nursing
Program Cost: $33,168 per year for full-time students

2. Loyola University at New Orleans- Master of Science in Nursing
Program Cost: $744 per credit hour

3. Duke University- Master of Science in Nursing
Program Cost: $1,358 per credit hour

4. Drexel University- Master of Science in Nursing
Program Cost: $800 per credit hour

5. Clarkson College- Master of Science in Nursing
Program Cost: $437 per credit hour

6. Georgetown University- Master of Science in Nursing
Program Cost: between $21,000 and $36,000 per year for full-time students

7. University of Texas at Tyler- Master of Science in Nursing
Program Cost: $338.23 per credit hour in-state; $689 per credit hour out-of-state

8. Sacred Heart University- Master of Science in Nursing
Program Cost: $600 per credit hour

9. University of Florida- Master of Science in Nursing
Program Cost: $11,954 per year in-state; $29,347 per year out-of-state

10. University of San Francisco- Master of Science in Nursing
Program Cost: $1,130 per unit

Source: Top 10 Best Online Masters Degree in Nursing Programs

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The Top Ten Online Healthcare Administration Degree Programs That Will Further Your Career

With the field of healthcare offering recession proof jobs, it makes sense for someone interested in this industry to earn a healthcare administration degree. Having such a degree will help one advance in their healthcare careers. Another benefit is that students will graduate with a better understanding of the issues facing the healthcare industry today, as well as the business aspects involved. Anyone seeking a position in the management portion of healthcare, including the legal issues and personnel management, will be interested in completing a healthcare administration degree program.

The schools listed as having the Top 10 Best Online Healthcare Administration Degree Programs are well respected within the business and healthcare industry.

All of these schools are accredited as institutions of higher learning. In addition, each school on the list offers degrees that will enable students to move further along in a healthcare career.

1. University of Minnesota-Crookston – Bachelor of Science in Health Management
Cost: $430.77 per credit

2. Colorado State University – Global Campus – Bachelor of Science in Healthcare Administration and Management
Cost: $350.00 per credit

3. Drexel University – Bachelor of Science in Health Services Administration
Cost: $690.00 per credit

4. Northeastern University – Bachelor of Science in Health Management
Cost: $335.00 per credit

5. Bellevue University – Bachelor of Science in Healthcare Management
Cost: $370.00 per credit

6. Liberty University – Bachelor of Science in Business Administration – Healthcare Management
Cost: $325.00 per credit

7. New England College – Bachelor of Science in Healthcare Administration
Cost: $31,394.00 per year

8. Grand Canyon University – Bachelor of Science in Health Care Administration
Cost: $465.00 per credit

9. Hodges University – Bachelor of Science in Health Administration
Cost: $490.00 per credit

10. Strayer University – Bachelor of Business Administration – Healthcare Administration
Cost: $1,700.00 per course

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Top Online Schools Help Professionals Advance the Field of Nursing

bestmasterofscienceinnursingNurses who are looking to advance in their careers will be most interested in this recently published list of top online Master of Science in Nursing Programs. Getting a Master of Science Degree through one of the top ten online schools described here is a great way for anyone in the field of nursing to increase their knowledge and improve their functioning as qualified health professionals.

All of the schools on this list are accredited, offering many options to those wishing to further their career. Each school mentioned offers Masters of Science in Nursing Degrees that will be of value in advancing in one’s field.

1. Johns Hopkins University – Master of Science in Nursing
Cost: $33,168.00 per full time year

2. Loyola University New Orleans – Master of Science in Nursing
Cost: $744.00 per credit hour

3. Duke University – Master of Science in Nursing
Cost: $1,358.00 per credit

4. Drexel University – Master of Science in Nursing
Cost: $800.00 per credit

5. Georgetown University – Master of Science in Nursing
Cost: $21,000.00 to $36,000.00 per full time year

6. Clarkson College – Master of Science in Nursing
Cost: $437.00 per credit hour

7. University of Texas-Tyler – Master of Science in Nursing
Cost: $338.23 per credit for residents. $689.00 per credit for non-residents

8. University of Colorado Denver – Master of Science in Nursing
Cost: $355.00 per credit for residents. $1,076.00 per credit for non-residents

9. University of Florida – Master of Science in Nursing
Cost: $11,954.00 per year for residents. $29,347.00 per year for non-residents

10. Delta State University – Master of Science in Nursing
Cost: $2,862.00 per semester for residents. $4,548.00 per semester for non-residents


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Researchers Find Heart May Power Pacemaker

home-features-heart-powered-pacemakerResearchers have revealed a prototype that could change life-saving pacemakers by harnessing energy stored in the heart. While researching, of all things, unmanned flight, scientists discovered that the heart’s own beat could hold the key to a battery-free pacemaker. That’s a surprising discovery, and implementation is far in the future. Yet, if it works, it will mean great things for pacemaker patients.

The pacemaker is one of the most used heart devices in the world. There are at least three million people with one right now. Every year more than 350 million are implanted. Many of these patients are aging or elderly, and many others are children who will live with this device their entire lives.

Aerospace Study Leads to Discovery

Michigan’s Department of Aerospace Engineering researchers were investigating how an unmanned plane could use harness power from its own vibrations, according to HealthTech Zone. Essentially, they were building on a process that was discovered in 1880. French scientists Jacque and Pierre Curie were the first to demonstrate that a charge can mount up in crystals. The aerospace researchers were trying to find applications for air travel by looking at the energy from aircraft wing vibrations.

When researchers applied this idea to the pacemaker, they discovered through an artificial test process that the heartbeat was generating and storing energy. In fact, according to their findings, the energy is ten times that needed to power a pacemaker. The tiny mechanism that they have devised would be 1/100th of an inch thick. It would be made of a ceramic material. The researchers also intend to use magnets to increase the signal, according to Michigan Engineering.

There are many obstacles. Hearts beat at different rates, and it may be difficult to calibrate the device to deal with these differences. Scientists will have to be 100 percent sure that the device will work before implementation.

What would this mean for patients? For one, it would reduce the size of the pacemaker. The battery is one of its biggest parts. With that taken away, the size can drop drastically. In fact, the University of Michigan prototype is not as big as a penny. This smaller size will make it less invasive for patients.

For another, a battery-free pacemaker will allay the surgery fears of many patients and their families. At present, replacing the battery means the risk of surgery. Since this must happen every five years at best, this surgery brings risks for patients, especially children, the chronically ill, and the elderly. These are risks that increase with the passing of time and each new surgery. With a battery-free system, they would not need surgery for new batteries. If this technology becomes a reality, more than three million people and their families will breathe a sigh of lasting relief.

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Notable Technological Breakthroughs in Healthcare From the Last 10 Years

robotic surgeryHealthcare is being improved on a regular basis, which means that some individuals with previously untreatable or incurable diseases might currently or soon be able to be cured or receive an easier, more successful treatment. For instance, before the creation of insulin in the 1920s, those diagnosed with type I diabetes were considered to be terminally ill, as they eventually died as a direct result of the condition. Since then, numerous other advancements in health have been made, including the following that have been made in the last 5 – 7 years:

Lupus Treatment

Lupus is a debilitating autoimmune disease in which the body attacks its own joints, skin, kidneys, heart, brain or any other part of the body. Symptoms vary from patient to patient and include muscle and joint pain, extreme fatigue, photosensitivity, hair loss, abnormal blood clotting, anemia, headaches and various others. Women in their child-bearing years, somewhere between the ages of 15 – 44, are usually those afflicted; however, children and even men have been diagnosed with this potentially fatal disease. Usual treatments are anti-inflammatories, corticosteroids, anticoagulants, anti-malarials, immunosuppressives and various medications for pain. Medications specifically created to treat lupus hadn’t been developed in over 50 years until the FDA approved Benlysta, a safe and effective new medication for lupus, in 2011.

Robotic Surgery

In 2007, surgeons at the renowned Cleveland Clinic began using tiny robots to remove kidneys from patients, and what used to result in a 10-inch long scar now leaves only small, barely-noticeable incisions. Robotic surgery is now performed at various hospitals around the world, enabling patients to recover quicker, experience less pain, and have fewer risks of complications.


Also performed at the Cleveland Clinic, surgeons removed a woman’s unhealthy kidney through the use of a breakthrough procedure called Natural Orifice Translumenal Endoscopic Surgery (NOTES) in 2009. Instead of removing the diseased organ in the usual manner, surgeons removed it through her vagina.

Face Transplantation

In 2005, surgeons in France were the first to transplant a woman’s face after she sustained extreme disfigurement after being mauled by a dog. More face transplants have been performed since then, which is great news for people with severe deformities of the face due to illness, surgery and injuries.

HPV Vaccine

In 2006, Gardasil was introduced as a vaccination intended to prevent the human papillomavirus, which can lead to cervical cancer and other diseases. The vaccination is indicated for HPV prevention in both young women and young men.

Scientists are constantly performing research on numerous health-related conditions, and they will continue to make technological breakthroughs at accelerated rates. Perhaps there will soon be a cure developed for diabetes, HIV and possibly even cancer. Of course there is no guarantee that cures will ever be discovered for these or any other potentially fatal disease, but the more scientists conduct their research and experiments, the higher the probability of cures, or at least viable treatments, being uncovered.

About the Guest Author

Scott Schumacher is a nurse educator and blogger for various healthcare resources. He writes frequently about advances being made within the healthcare industry, and more of his research in this area can be found at Nursing Informatics Program Rankings.

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Saving Lives With High Tech Health Care Apps

One in 10 Americans believe that health information found on the Internet saved their lives, according to a blockbuster survey released today by Royal Philips Technology. These consumers are finding healthcare information by using mHealth, mobile apps and interactive applications on the Internet. This is the first widespread survey that confirms that health care technology information has been plugged into high-tech devices and applications to provide health information to consumers. The net effect is that people believe this marriage between health care technology and their devices is saving their lives.

The survey found that the high-tech devices that people use to find out the latest in health care breakthroughs are now a part of their overall health care solutions and an important element of living healthy lives. Eleven percent of survey respondents said that if were not for health information found on the Web, that they might be severely ill or dead.

Another 25 percent of respondents said that they used symptom checker websites or diagnostic technology home tests with the same frequency that they visited their doctors. Twenty-seven percent used health care technology applications in place of seeing their doctors. Another 41 percent answered that they felt comfortable using websites featuring health technology information to check on various health symptoms. Nearly half of Americans had no problem with using symptom checker technologies and vital sign technologies on the Internet and sharing that information with their doctors. More than one-third of Americans believe that this Internet health care technology, allowing a person to monitor their life signs, is now a key to ensuring a longer life.

The Best is Yet to Come

The survey found that medical care is in the early stages of health care delivery that will combine mobile apps, mHealth and the Web. Applications are under development today that will weave together the latest health information technologies with professionals in health care, doctors, nurses and patients. This will create a medical and social web where various medical entities will have a share in decisions about a patient’s treatment, according to Dr. Eric Silfen, the chief medical officer at Philips. The company is on the cutting edge of well-being and health care for patients.

It’s part of a technological revolution in health care that will lower the cost of health care, prevent medical errors, increase the quality of care and create a standard of medicine based on the best evidence, Silfen said. “Ultimately, the technological undercurrents of the post-PC world – the power of many designer gadgets, cloud ecosystems and mobile app computing – will hasten the personalization and partnerships that will transform sustainable medical care to the highest quality,” he added.

Smart devices will ultimately use health care technology information to allow access to care anywhere. Philips has already developed an app, called CarePartners mobile app, that will gather doctors, patients and family into a secure virtual space to discuss long-term medical care. Each patient will own a personal, high-tech health book where health care can be managed and updated.

Virtual care using smart devices and apps to engage a patient with the latest in health care technology is the future. Some consumers have already credited this new way of medical care with saving their lives.

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