The Electronic medical record (EMR) system has evolved from simple clinical reporting systems and is used to not only document patient reports, but also provide decision support for physicians. EMR intends to replace earlier systems, such as practice management systems (PMS). Though the EMR system inarguably offers the promise of quality health care, widespread adoption of this system is still lacking. Implementation of this system depends on the readiness of clinicians and the existing infrastructure in hospitals and clinics, including the type of database, networks, and other devices. The main dilemma faced by the medical personnel is whether EMR should be integrated or interfaced with the present system.
Integrating EMR will mean running the EMR on the same platform, such as Windows, to access the same database, whereas interfacing EMR allows the movement of data between different operating systems, such as Windows and UNIX.
Pros And Cons Of Integrating EMR
Integrating EMR promises to deliver a unified system, with the data being consistent and stored at only one location. Integrating is a simpler and less expensive process, as it eliminates the need to set and maintain two different servers. Also, it is much easier to learn, and the new staff requires less training to get used to the windows-based system. The unified data recording system avoids duplication of content. This eliminates redundancies and also produces more accurate data. Moreover, when the data are updated, it has to be done in only one system. Integrated systems are a tried and tested way, being more scalable and relating to only one vendor. Remote access is also simplified and more efficient in an integrated system.
When integrating EMR with your present system, a lot of planning is required to make sure that the transition is smooth. The procedures and parties involved have to be defined in the beginning, and the network capabilities in the institution have to be evaluated before moving ahead. The format of the data to be shared must be consistent. And most importantly, the help desk for the new EMR integrating system has to be set up to resolve potential disputes. Lastly, the present vendor may not offer integrating EMR with your present system, thus making the transition time-consuming.
Pros And Cons Of Interfacing EMR
The main advantage of interfacing EMR is that you can still use the old system to access your data. The unique needs can be addressed through other vendors, and the two systems can work hand in hand.
Interfacing poses many challenges from a practical point of view. The changes and additions made in one system have to be coordinated with the other, and reprogramming of the interface is required each time. The end users have to cope with two different systems and data models with different standards and vendors. The data format may be different in the two systems and generating common reports may prove a difficult task. In case of a problem, all different components of the two systems have to be evaluated to reach the crux of the issue and restore the functioning of the interfaced EMR.