How digitised medical records can help you better manage your family’s health.
Health is wealth ~ Ancient Chinese Proverb
This is probably one of the most overused adages in the English language. It is also one of the most irrefutable facts of life. In the 21st century though, it seems that health, which should be everyone’s most basic priority, often takes a back seat. Call it ironic, but we seem to be too busy striving to better our positions in life, to keep ourselves healthy.
Let us examine the facts. Most of us live in joint income households, where both spouses are focused on their careers. This often happens at the expense of both their individual health. Long hours, multiple responsibilities and of course the stress of work along with poor diets, eating habits, vices like smoking and of course a sedentary lifestyle are a potent cocktail for disaster.
Children today are also extremely stressed. An average child spends around 6 hours in school, another 4 to 5 hours in tutions and academic preparation and a couple of hours in leisure, which are inevitably video games, that keep them hooked, and eat up the time, they ought to be playing outdoor games in. This results in poor physical and often times psychological development of the child, and adds to the already low standard of health being maintained in the home.
Even when you make a conscious effort to eat right, schedule a routine that involves clean living, exercise and regular health checkups for yourself and your family, it can turn out to be a real challenge, simply because 9 times out of 10 you cannot sync up your schedule with that of your loved ones’. Failure to do this only adds to your already burgeoning list of worries.
This state of affairs is aptly summed up by G.K.Chesterton, when he says, “the trouble of always trying to preserve the health of the body is that you can rarely ever accomplish it without destroying the health of the mind.”
The trouble trying to maintain your family’s health is further compounded by the lack of a comprehensive summary of their medical history. Each one of us as individuals has a unique and often times diverse medical history. For instance if you suffer from a set of allergies, like lactose intolerance or peanut allergies, it isn’t necessary that your child would display a similar set of allergies. Also symptoms of the same illness could be manifested in a plethora of different ways amongst, both parents and children. This further necessitates the availability and use of digitised medical records in order to better manage your family’s health.
This article seeks to disseminate information about the nature, benefits and uses of medical health records and the infinite possibilities that exist with the presence of a robust, Unified Medical Information Delivery System.
Just like the internet revolutionized communication in the 20th century, unified medical information delivery systems are changing the way a family takes ownership of its health and manages it better. A unified medical information delivery system in essence is a secure network of doctors, hospitals, super speciality clinics, path labs and pharmacists. It helps a patient have better access to these important stakeholders of the medical spectrum and also makes managing the health of a family that much simpler.
Here’s how it can do that.
- 1. By functioning as a directory: As a patient, you can actually look for doctors, specialists, labs and hospitals. Think of it as doing a search on Google. The most relevant results, based on your pin code or the area of the city you are living in will be displayed first and foremost, with credible testimonials about the doctor, details of the clinic, including facilities and time of operation. This makes your life as a patient infinitely easier.
- 2. Making an informed choice: Check a directory of reputed doctors, hospitals, labs and specialists, which also contains details and reviews from satisfied patients, this makes it all the more easy for you to be able to make an informed decision.
- 3. Online appointments: Now that you have found the doctor, lab or hospital you were looking for, with just the simple click of a button, you can avail of an appointment. This one step procedure saves you the effort of having to note down the clinic’s number and calling a receptionist in order to book an appointment.
- 4. E-invoicing: Another convenient feature of MIDS is the ability to make payments (and keep track of expenses) for all medical related services. All your transactions are routed via a secure server and your information is kept 100% confidential.
- 5. Ease of access: Once you’ve signed up with a you have a whole host of information at your fingertips. This includes all your lab test reports, e-prescriptions, allergy and medical history as well. This means that across devices and at any given point in time, with your login id and password you can have your entire medical history at your fingertips.
- 6. Health Profiler: Once you have a login id and password, you can start developing a comprehensive, health profile. This means you can compile, document and sort your medical history in a systematic manner. Creating a digital medical record in the process. This can come in handy to you at vital times. For instance at the time of admission to a hospital, rather than carrying a dossier with all your papers, granting access to the attending physician will enable him to have a better understanding of your ailment and treat you more efficiently. Even in a situation where you change cities and need a new physician, you needn’t make him aware of all of your medical history, you can simply share it online, and securely too.
- 7. Security of sensitive information: A MIDS like Health For All is a secure repository of all your sensitive medical data. Being completely cloud based your data is secured by an encryption system. You are in charge of who you want to share your data with. Whenever a request is made by a doctor for access to your records, you may approve or disapprove that request. You are given a one time password (OTP) which you can share with your physician. This password works just like a secure credit card password does when you shop online. It has a limited validity and once the one-time access is complete, your records are sealed again.
- 8. Taking charge of your family’s health: Having access to your medical records online helps you as the head of your family to take charge of the health of your loved ones. In the case of your older folk, imagine being able to schedule tests, doctor’s appointments and other important medical checkups, from wherever you are. Having your children’s medical records handy means being able to treat and perhaps prevent future episodes of the medical conditions.
- 9. A great gift: Getting your loved ones and friends a subscription to MIDS, makes it a great gift. Think about it as enabling them to become healthier and living a better quality.
- 10. Save Money: Many MIDS offer great health packages from doctors, labs and hospitals. Keep checking the offers as you may get discounts for all your regular checkups for you and family.
- 11. Supreme Convenience: Being vigilant about health is of prime importance in today’s day and age. Being part of MIDS makes the process that much more stress-free and convenient. Imagine being able to refill a prescription at the click of a button, or reviewing your medical history year on year, getting your medical tests online and simply being able to, at a click of a button keep your entire family healthier and happier.
What is a medical record?
Medical records very basically are records of an individual’s medical history. They chronicle and record every minor and major facet of an individual’s health, from a record of his/her immunizations as a child to allergies of all kinds, to any injuries, operations and hospitalization he/she may have undergone, and the reasons for the same.
Without getting into medical jargon, a person’s medical record is a vital piece of the person’s health chronicle that enables his physician, caregiver, blood relatives or hospice/hospital/care home, administer the best possible standard of care that they can, in order to ensure that the person/patient is in a good health.
What do medical records consist of?
From something as small as a doctor’s prescription to a lab report, a medical record consists of anything and everything that is deemed necessary for the maintenance of a person’s well being. Medical records are said to consist of various sections
- Medications and medical allergies: A summary of the patient’s previous and ongoing medicines and any known medical allergies
- Family history: A summary of a patient’s family medical history, this is of vital importance, as it could give the physician an insight to any genetic predispositions that a patient may have towards certain ailments, as family traits often play a big role in these
- Surgical history: An up to date, chronological sequence of any and all surgeries a patient may have undergone, major or minor notwithstanding. This section will help a physician interpret a patient’s current state of health and determine whether or not a particular condition mandates surgery as a means of treatment
- Obstetric history: This is an important indicator for a woman, as it lists her history of pregnancies and their outcomes and also if there were any complications in any of them
- Social history: A record of a patient’s occupation, social status, interactions and even religious predisposition. This can help a physician estimate the lifestyle and risks a person has due to these indicators and is extremely helpful when trying to ascertain the cause of work related lifestyle disorders etc.
- Immunization history: The history of vaccination is included. Any blood tests proving immunity will also be included in this section
Section: Medical Encounters
Within a medical record, will exist a section of medical encounters. Medical encounters are discrete summations of a patient’s medical history by a physician, nurse, professional caregiver, like a paramedic and detail the any particular instance where a patient may have needed hospitalization and or emergency care. This acts as a valuable tool to the attending physician or a family doctor especially in the recurrence of a similar episode.
Section: Orders and Prescriptions
Prescriptions and orders from a physician with respect to diet control and other important aspects of personal health care form an important part of an individual’s medical record.
Section: Progress Reports
Especially when a person is hospitalized and is undergoing treatment, a progress report mapping his recovery is maintained by the attendant physician or medical nurse and that becomes a part of a patient’s permanent health record.
Section: Tests and Results
Health testing and records are an important part of the process of keeping a patient healthy. A good health record will have an up to date section on the patient’s tests conducted and the results of the same.
Section: Other Records
A comprehensive health record will contain several other documents and information that are important to an individual patient’s well being. For instance: readouts from implants or medical devices like a pacemaker or digital stent, an informed consent form etc.
Digital health records are a great boon to doctors, but even more so to patients. More than just being a convenient tool to enable faster and more precise diagnosis to a medical emergency, they bring a semblance of control to the individual over his/her health as a whole.
Imagine having all your relevant health records at your disposal, literally accessible to you anywhere. You could monitor your nutrition better, thanks to the advice recorded by your physician in his notes. Any allergies you may have are known to you, enabling you to take greater precautions against them. Knowing your latest sugar, cholesterol and other critical levels means that you have greater peace of mind, or you can plan your life and schedule in such a way that you make time to do what is necessary in order to bring these critical levels under control. What’s more the presence of your health records means that at any given point in time, you are in control of your health, and that feeling of control is what makes Digitised medical records a must have for every individual.
Digitised medical records make even more sense in a family. Monitoring and keeping a track of your loved ones’ vital health indicators give one a sense of mental peace. The intangibles apart, you can take informed decisions about the treatment of any congenital diseases or ailments that your family may be predisposed to. Tracking your children’s growth and development becomes a whole lot easier simply due to the presence of his/her immunization records, health checkups and detailed medical history being accessible to you.
As a parent one of your critical responsibilities is quality health care for your child. Let us assume for a moment that your child has an ailment that may need you to consult a specialist, in this case a simple click of a button can ensure that the specialist in question receives conditional access to your child’s medical records and has a better idea of the case even before you seek an appointment. Often times with one parent out of town, a child may fall ill and in such a scenario, the presence of digitised medical records is a real boon, as the parent could grant temporary access of these to a caregiver and ensure that the child is taken care of. All these factors make digitised medical records a definite plus to have as a family.
Senior citizens are extremely susceptible to sudden bouts of illness and hospitalization is often mandatory in such instances. Since nuclear families and kids in absentia (due to work and other commitments) are the norm these days, it makes sense to invest in digitised medical records, especially if you have parents or relatives who are advanced in age. In the event of an emergency, it may not always be possible for a loved one to be by a senior’s side, presence of comprehensive, digitized medical records can definitely play a huge role in the diagnosis and treatment of said episode. Then there’s also the facet of knowing and keeping track of your seniors’ health thanks to the presence of their testing history and other important medical documents. Accessibility and overall control makes geographical distance a virtual non-issue in the care of your folks in the event of your absence.
Simply because your doctor has access to your digitised medical records, the overall process and service that he can render to you is a far superior one. Here’s how the overall patient care process benefits from the existence of digitised medical records:
- Physicians and nurses now have more time to spend with patients, with traditional paper based records, they divide their time between actually filling these medical records. With digitization the process is remarkably quicker and allows physicians and nurses to spend more quality time with their patients/charges
- Your physician attends to several patients in a day and needs to remember individual patient histories, allergies, prior medications and other important details of each and every patient. This takes up a lot of his/her mindspace and greatly increases the chances of a misdiagnosis. Digital health records take away the chore of having to remember individual patient records by putting them conveniently at the fingertips of your physician, giving him the freedom to treat you better
- Your access to the right medication becomes a whole lot easier as with an e-prescription, a doctor can directly send your prescription to a pharmacy which in turn can serve you faster and with greater convenience
- Digital health records minimise the chance of medical errors, as they improve legibility, and clarity of the document in question, after all there is no substitute to accurate information about the patients’ condition
- When your doctor has to recommend you to a quality diagnostic lab, or hospital, he can share (with express permission from you) your testing history or medical records with the respective professional, thus enabling you to get better care, quicker
- Digital health records act as a catalyst to the development of a more robust health care delivery system, which means that patient access to a better standard of care improves vastly
The creation, storage and access to quality medical records has seen an exponential growth with the advent of digitization. This means that medical records are now virtually error free, are stored such that they are accessible and secure and that unlike the old days there is little or no chance of manipulation and misuse of your sensitive medical data. This of course means that there is no threat of your data being misplaced either.
As with any kind of digital storage questions are often raised about the security and reliability of digitised medical records as well. While there is no sense in denying that these concerns as baseless and untrue, it would serve you well to know the entire picture before you make up your mind regarding digitised medical records. So here are a few frequently asked questions about the access and security of digitised medical records.
Q) Are my digitised medical records accessible to anybody since they are stored online?
R) Your digitised medical records are accessible to only those that you choose to give access to. This is a system whereby you grant restricted or conditional access to trustworthy medical professionals for the express purpose of them being able to use your medical records to treat either you or your family members.
Q) What is meant by conditional access?
R) Conditional access means that you as the custodian of your digitised medical records give access to them to a trusted practitioner. Conditional access could be in the form of a one time password by which said practitioner has ‘one time’ access to your medical records and cannot replicate or duplicate the same without your express permission.
Q) What precautions must I take to safeguard my family’s digitised medical records?
R) Quite simply follow the same protocols you follow with your financial data, for instance your bank ATM pin, net-banking access credentials or credit card data. Do not share the access code (such as your username and password) with anyone other than a trusted family member or registered medical practitioner.
Q) What kind of safeguards are used to ensure that my medical records are kept secure?
R) Your digitised medical records are stored on the cloud and are encrypted with the latest in digital protection. This means that they are not accessible to anyone without the unique usernames and passwords that are issued to you as a customer or user. Besides there are many digital failsafes that ensure that your medical records are always backed up and kept secure.
Digital health records work on the assumption that all medical practitioners, from doctors to pathological laboratories, care homes, hospitals and even paramedical services like EMTs and ambulance service providers have a use for them. What this means is that there is an underlying synergy that is needed for a robust system of information relaying between the various stakeholders of the medical care cycle.
Digital health records build on and benefit on these synergies. Here’s how it works. Think of a doctor as the entry point of a patient into the ecosystem that DMRs create. The doctor creates an account for a patient. He begins populating the same with relevant entries that begin to form a comprehensive history of the patient, medically speaking. Now that a patient is part of the system, he/she becomes a vital stakeholder of the DMR cycle.
On the other hand, the more doctors that start adopting DMRs as a best practice, means that the ecosystem keeps developing at a greater rate. Soon paramedical services like ambulance service providers, pharmacies, blood banks and even institutions like hospitals get integrated into the system and a clear line of inter-dependencies are developed. These inter-dependencies means that patients are beneficiaries of even better standards of care than were the norm.
Take for instance, you visit your doctor and he finds that you need to perform a few tests in order for him to diagnose you and therefore treat you better. He can then refer you to a lab that is also a part of that system. The tests he’s recommended to you will instantly be recorded with the lab, and your appointment with the lab will be confirmed. Once the tests have been performed, your lab tech will directly dispatch a copy of your report to you as well as your attending physician, electronically. This will help save a great deal of time in the diagnosis phase. If perchance, you are diagnosed with an ailment and need to be hospitalised, a few clicks from your doctor’s computer will take care of all your further care needs, from an ambulance pick up to hospital admission and proper dispensation of medical care that you’re in need of. If all seems to be in order, but your doctor wants to put you on a course of medication, he will simply fill out an e-prescription and your medication will be ready for you to pick up from the relevant pharmacy.
What this means, is that a patient can be rest assured of quality care across the board, right from diagnosis to treatment and beyond.
"DMRs help me keep a track on my old parents' health."
I live in States and my folks are advanced in age. My dad has a history of minor strokes and my.mum's diabetic. For the longest time I felt a sense of helplessness when it came to tending to their health. Living apart from them, trying to keep an eye on both their health and my work simply meant I wasn't doing justice to either, that's where medical records played an important role in my relationship with my parents. The very fact that I was away did not mean that I could not keep an eye on their day to day health anymore. Investing in DMRs means that I have access to their relevant health records and can consult with their doctors regarding the progress they're making with their respective lines of treatment. DMRs have helped me take better care of my parents and given me a sense of greater involvement with their lives, irrespective of the geographical distance between us.
~ Neville Rohinton (New Jersey)
"DMRs ensured that my son was treated promptly on his school trip."
My 13 year old son has a severe peanut allergy. He cannot stand any good with peanut or even trace amounts of peanut oil. Once on a field trip out of town, I got a panicky phone call from one of his teachers. He had simply collapsed after eating dinner, rather inexplicably. The attendant physician on site needed to know his medical history in order to treat him properly. I immediately shared his DMR with the doctor, who studied his reports, determined the course of treatment and went ahead with it. Thanks to DMRs he got the right course of medication and treatment even though he was out of town.
~ Emily Green (Rochester)
Digitised medical records are not just a convenient way for doctors to reduce their workload, or hospitals to function more efficiently. They are in fact a catalyst that will help more and more people access quality health care and stimulate the growth of a robust infrastructure to help cater to a growing population in a country on the verge of greatness.