Digitizing America’s Medical Records by Google Company

Table of Contents

Introduction

Millions and Millions of patients visit public and private hospitals annually with various medical conditions. To facilitate quality diagnosis and treatment of patient’s ailments there need be a proper system of obtaining and capturing the patient’s medical records. This case study analyzes whether it is advisable for system development companies such as Google to organize medical records in a computerized manner to form a master database where patient information can be retrieved by relevant parties when needed. The study also focuses on the merits, demerits, procedures and the necessary security measures to be put in place when developing medical records in a central database. To capture medical records electronically, some concepts must be considered which include the privacy of the patient’s data saved in the master database, funding of the entire process, impact of medical records to employers on employees and sustainability of the entire process.

Stakeholders involved

The entire process of organizing medical records by Google Company is intensive and involving whereby various stakeholders must be involved. The stakeholders in this case include the patients whose medical records will be organized electronically, Doctors and hospitals that use patient’s records for diagnosis and treatment, Google Company which will be mandated with the task of organizing the medical records electronically. Business companies are also stakeholders in this case as most businesses use online applications to communicate to their customers and also for advertisement purposes. To facilitate this task there must be funding which should be provided by stakeholders including the government as this will make it easier for medical records pertaining patients to be retrieved with ease.

Problems with current Medical record keeping system in America

According to Laudon and Laudon, (2009), most medical records in the United States are recorded manually with heaps of papers and folders a common sight in most medical centers. The medical records stored in hospitals continue to pile up as more patients visit hospitals with various medical ailments. Managing medical records manually is bulky and space consuming whereby most hospitals have data archive rooms where old medical records can be retrieved manually when the need arises. The procedure of retrieving the medical records stored manually is tiresome, time-consuming and inefficient when it comes to information sharing. Medical records stored on papers are difficult to share with other medical practitioners and easily destroyed. It is also difficult to update patients’ records when they revisit the hospital for subsequent treatment. Manual system lacks statistical data analysis which can be used when making decision in health institutions (Griffin & Snook, 2006).

Advantages and Disadvantages of Electronic medical records

The above problems can be solved by changing the system used to manage medical records from the manual system to modern computerized systems where medical records are electronically saved and retrieved. According to Gartee, (2011), computerizing medical records will save on space and make it easy to retrieve the records when they are needed. Organization of records by Google will also ensure real time updates of medical records when patients revisit hospitals with new diagnosis. Digitizing medical records is of essence when patients change hospitals and doctors as in this case medical practitioners have to start digging patients’ information from scratch (Laudon & Laudon, 2009). It will be convenient and easy for the medical practitioners to obtain important medical records which sometimes can be a matter of life and death when a patient requires emergency treatment. The initial cost of digitizing medical records may be enormous, but it will be a cost cutting measure in the long run as digitization increases efficiency thus reducing future costs of saving medical records.

Critical factors in development of Medical records system

Digitizing medical records may be cost prohibitive to the management of various medical centers. The management should be willing to invest and seek funding from various stakeholders including the government in order to make the digitization of medical records a success. Another critical factor which should be considered is the goodwill of the stakeholders involved in the digitization process. This include the patients who should willingly give out their medical information, Google health company which must ensure security of the patients’ data and other stakeholders like the medical centers management which provides logistical support.

According to Kuehn, (2007), various technological factors such as online access of records, on-site records review, system authentication and consolidation must be put in place by Google Company when digitizing medical records. There must be a unique patient identification key to avoid duplication and confusion of data pertaining to patients. Organizations should allow smooth system change over from manual one to digitized system. This should be done efficiently and economically without creating any information vacuum during the system changeover. Consolidation of departments should also be done by organizations in order to improve the flow of medical information across the organization. Google Company must also integrate the medical records system to be used by multiple users in various geographical locations. On-site records review should be done where patients’ medical records should be stored in a central database with online access to all the parties involved rather than being stored in individual medical centers. This will avoid duplication of data and allow easy and convenient access of data by all the stakeholders.

According to Skolnik, (2010), the arguments for digitizing medical records obviously outweigh the arguments against digitization of medical records. Skolnik, (2010), argues that, cost reduction in keeping medical records, coordinate care and improved health outcomes as the major pros of digitizing medical records. Digitized medical health records are captured in a coded format that is understood by all the stakeholders involved. This prevents unauthorized parties from accessing medical records. Digitizing of medical records facilitates real time update of patients’ information which in turn improves on service delivery by medical practitioners resulting to improved health outcomes. Integration of digitized medical records has resulted to efficiency in obtaining such records across the states as the records are managed in a central database. This reduces on cost as compared manual system which involves a lot of travelling, heaps of files and time wastage when a medical practitioner wants patient information. Organization of medical records by Google Company also facilitates central medication and disease control center.

On the other hand poor patient-doctor relationship, lack of privacy and neglect of actual medical requirements are some of the cons cited by Lobalsamo (2009), as to why digitizing medical records should be ignored. Lobalsamo, (2009), argues that hospitals management are only interested in updating patients medical records at the expense of providing essential medical care such as medicine and hospital equipment. Lack of privacy in digitized medical records is also another disadvantage cited by most stakeholders who are against digitizing of medical records. Erroneous input of a patient medical record by a data capture clerk will result to wrong diagnosis by health physicians which compromise the medical care given to patients (Carter, 2008). In consideration, all the issues raised by the stakeholders arguing against digitizing medical records can be improved and valid data authentication be put in place to improve the service delivery of health by digitizing medical records.

Entrusting Google with Electronic Medical Records

According to Peng, (2008), Google Company has one of the most widely used search engine across the globe. The company can be entrusted with medical records as it has the technical knowhow of data security, integration and authentication. Google Company has the capability of making the digitized medical records available at online data centers and at the same time guarantee the security of the medical records. The company should avoid using digitized individual patients medical records as adverts to various health conditions for monetary gain as this will jeopardize patient’s privacy. Online data centers access should be limited by the company to prevent unauthorized personnel from obtaining digitized medical records and disseminating it to irrelevant parties.

Electronic Medical Records Features

An efficient digitized medical records system requires efficient data integration, authentication and real time update and retrieval of data (Puisis, 2006). The system should have smart features to detect duplication of patient’s medical information and efficient firewall software’s to protect patients records from hackers. It should also have coded unique identifier of patients’ records for easy retrieval and update. The system should support decision making features which are to be used by doctors in diagnosing various medical ailments and clinical guidelines. According to Walker, Bieber and Richards, (2006), an efficient medical records system should have patient support feature which allows patients to perform self -testing and monitoring tests at home. This feature enables patients to conduct simple diagnostic tests which might not require immediate visit to medical centers. Features such as Google adverts, direct reports and weak log in system should be eliminated from medical recording system software as this will compromise the pros of the system. In conclusion it is therefore important for all the stakeholders including patients to entrust their medical records to Google Health Company as this will improve service delivery and health care in our medical centers.

Reference List

Carter, J., H. 2008. Electronic health records: a guide for clinicians and administrators. New York: ACP Press.

Griffin, D. & Snook, D. 2006. Hospitals: what they are and how they work, Volume 10. New York: Jones & Bartlett Learning.

Kuehn, L., 2007. Health Information Management: Medical Record Processes in Group Practice. New York: Medical Group Management Assn.

Laudon.K.,C. & Laudon.J.,P.2009. Management information systems: managing the digital firm. New York: Prentice Hall.

Lobalsamo, L. 2009. The Only Prescription for Healthcare Reform: A Physician’s Inside. New York: AuthorHouse.

Peng, M., W. 2008. Global Strategy. New York: Cengage Learning.

Puisis, M. 2006. Clinical practice in correctional medicine. New York: Elsevier Health Sciences.

Skolnik, N., S. 2010. Electronic Medical Records: A Practical Guide for Primary Care. New York: Springer.

Walker, J., M., Bieber, E.,J. & Richards, F. 2006. Implementing an Electronic Health Record System. New York: Springer.

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