Almost all industries nowadays can operate through computers and devices for the purpose of convenience and efficiency -- and the healthcare sector should definitely catch up especially in the Philippines.

Electronic Medical Record (EMR) systems, aside from being expensive, are often complex and difficult to grasp. These are some reasons why doctors prefer the traditional, paper-based medical recording system. But what really is the value of acquiring an EMR system in the long run? Let's take a look at them one by one.

1. Accessibility

Without EMRs, files are bounded by clinic walls. They won't go anywhere unless you physically carry them with you.

An incident occurred last March 2016 in a hospital in Newcastle City, England where 143 private patient records were stolen while being transported by van between the city's hospitals. It was known that vans were used to transfer medical records from one hospital to another that needs them.

Cloud-based EMRs on the other hand, can be instantly accessed via internet through smart phones and gadgets that you can carry anywhere you go. When emergencies arise, there's lesser hassle searching for the medical records that you need.

2. Productivity

Tedious manual search and retrieval takes up time and effort. Searching for patient records in folders sorted in alphabetical order or filtered by colored numbers can take you around 2 minutes before heading back to the patient (and returning those records back to storage is another long story). But with EMRs, medical records can be easily searched and filtered in the database and may take you no more than 10 seconds to retrieve. You and your secretary can now focus on other tasks that require more attention.

3. Accuracy

Paper-based transactions bring about issues on legibility, missing records, redundancies, cluttered information, and human error. This may result in costs affecting the patients' safety, and we don't want that, of course!

With EMRs, all the records of patients are well-organized and a lot easier to read. Computer-operated systems provides faster validation of data and can give doctors a more comprehensive analysis of their patients' health status over time.

4. Security

Either way, medical records have security issues. Clinics without EMRs can be prone to temporary and permanent data loss such as paper deterioration, fire, or burglary. And EMRs, no matter how 'secure', still has a chance of being 'hacked' by external parties. But the level of security the EMR offers is quite superior compared with physical records. Industry standard encryption is used. Industry standard encr...what?

Well the process of encryption basically transforms your data into indecipherable codes that the only authorized parties can understand. This resolves issues about confidentiality, authentication, and data integrity. You can read more about it here.

5. Storage

This may be one of the most obvious benefits that EMRs can offer your clinic. All your data are stored in your devices and backed up using cloud technology, so you can retrieve them anytime you need it, and it doesn't take up as much space as massive record cabinets that basically occupies a large portion of your clinic if you don't have EMR.

A study in US estimated saving between 6,400 and 19,200 acres of forest in a year by using EMR system in healthcare. That's at least 9.5 million reams of copy paper!

6. Savings

Aside from impracticality in terms of time and space in your clinic, the traditional method is also economically drastic in the long run given that operating, security and maintenance costs are significantly high.

Although implementing an EMR system would require initial costs and efforts that may seem expensive at first, the acquired savings (in time, space, and money combined) are remarkably bigger compared with keeping the traditional paper-based medical record system for the next 10 years or so.

According to WeAreSocial.sg, 4 out of 10 Filipinos last 2015 are using the internet daily and on the average spends 6 hours a day. That's actually a big ratio.  Imagine how many Filipinos can be capable of tracking their health on their smartphones through your help.  It's high time for the Philippine healthcare to shift to EMRs to keep up with the technology and the habitual changes in its community.