Tracking and securing medical records is one of the core operations of managing any healthcare organization. These records provide important information regarding the medical history of patients and help in improving patient outcomes. Nowadays we use EHR and EMR to store the medical information of patients. And recently, many organizations have started to integrate EHR with RFID to optimize healthcare management.
So, let’s learn all there is to know about EHR and RFID in Healthcare.
What is EHR & EMR?
Ever since the development of modern medicine and healthcare facilities, these organizations have kept the medical records of the patients in order to improve the standard of care and help doctors diagnose patients accurately. Until the early 90s, all the records were kept on paper, however, this method soon became obsolete. That is because paper records cost more to maintain (cost of paper), they wear with the passage of time, require a lot of space, need to be replicated for the purpose of transportation, etc.
This led the entire healthcare infrastructure to shift to a more efficient method of record management. Nowadays we prefer to store patient information in a digital format. Unlike physical records, digital storage is far cheaper than paper records and requires significantly less space. In addition, they are also easier to maintain and do not get damaged with time. IoT (Internet of Things) integration allows users to easily access these records anywhere they want, making retrieval easy.
There are two types of medical records storage methods, known as EHR & EMR.
EMR: Electronic Medical Records
These stand for Electronic Medical Records. These are digital records, consisting of the medical information of an individual created, collected, and maintained by a single organization. Meaning, the complete records & history of a patient throughout their visits and treatment from a particular healthcare facility.
EHR: Electronic Health Records
Electronic Health Records, on the other hand, are a collection of the medical records of an individual across multiple healthcare organizations (hospitals, clinics, etc.). Usually, EHR is maintained by a specific organization like insurance providers, that specializes in maintaining the medical records of individuals. EHR allows medical professionals to have an in-depth look into the medical history of patients going back years, providing them with greater accuracy in treatment.
How Does RFID Integrate with EHR Systems?
Integration of AIDC systems like RFID allows healthcare personnel to access records safely and the organization in improving the security of these records. Now, without proper explanation, you might not be able to understand exactly how RF systems work to maintain the EHR/EMR. So, let’s check it out.
(A). Locate Physical Files
Even though electronic record management has been in use since the late 90s, a majority of old records are still in paper format. And some records are stored digitally but in older technologies that are no longer in commercial use like floppy and CDs. This is where organizations utilize RFID, as these old records are not valuable enough to be converted to digital format for a variety of reasons. For example, records for patients who have passed away don’t need to be accessible immediately and probably will never be used, thus, converting them to digital is just adding to the cost. This is where RFID technology comes into use. Organizations store these files securely in the archives and tag them with RFID, so, in case they ever need to be retrieved, users can do so easily using a reader.
There may come situations where users may need to access the actual physical records even though the electronic version is available. This can occur in rare scenarios like legal requirements during a case. Hospitals will generally store the already digitized files in boxes marked with an RF tag. The digital cop will have a code in it, that has the information about the tag on the box where its physical copy is stored. So, the users only need to use the database and input the identity of the digital record, and the computer can tell them exactly which box contains the original copy.
(B). Record Room Access Control
Most organizations have a centralized location for accessing the records of the entire hospital/facility. These rooms (generally known as the records room) have a computer that can give users access to all the records of any patient. However, due to Chapter 7 of the Indian Medical Council Rules (Professional Conduct, Etiquette, and Ethics), the medical information of any patient revealed during the treatment or consult is considered privileged information. Therefore, the hospital is very strict when it comes to maintaining the safety of these records.
So, the record rooms generally require workers to put in their credentials/login, wait for access to be granted, and then open the records. Statistically, even though this method is secure, it still requires & thus, wastes a lot of time. With the help of RF ID cards for the employees, a nearby reader connected to the computer can recognize whenever personnel with the required clearance is trying to access the system. And grant them access automatically, saving a lot of time and keeping the files secure.
(C). Track Access Points
Many organizations have shifted from a centralized access point to a mobile one, like a tablet that connects to the database using Wi-Fi. To make them easy to locate, organizations tag them with RFID.
Benefits of Using RFID for Managing Patient Records
There are several benefits of using RFID technology to manage patient records. These systems allow the process of accessing records far more efficiently than the current methods of logging in and out. It also makes it very easy to locate and retrieve records, which is especially important in an environment like a hospital, where time is of the essence.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q1. How is RFID used in the medical field?
Radio Frequency Identification technology is used in the medical field for tracking patient records, tools, equipment, and patients.
Q2. What are RFID tags for medical devices?
These are specialized tags, tailored to stick firmly to medical equipment. These allow the organization and medical workers in locating and retrieving them quickly.
Q3. How is an ambulance detected using RFID?
Many places around the world have started to integrate their traffic lights with specialized readers. These readers can pick up an RF windshield tags on emergency vehicles like ambulances, police cars, etc. Once they detect an emergency vehicle, they automatically change the traffic signal to give these vehicles the right of way.