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EHR - Electronic Health Record

The advent of the electronic health record (EHR) makes the jobs of medical assistants easier and more efficient. As part of their duties, medical assistants are responsible for maintaining medical records, billing, and coding information for insurance purposes. These days, that means working with an EHR system.

What is an Electronic Health Record?

An electronic health record is a digital version of a patient’s paper chart. EHRs are real-time, patient-centered records that make information available instantly and securely to authorized users.

While a health record contains the medical and treatment histories of patients, an EHR system goes beyond standard clinical data collected in a provider’s office and can include a broader view of a patient’s care. EHRs can:

  • Contain a patient’s medical history, diagnoses, medications, treatment plans, immunization dates, allergies, radiology images, and laboratory and test results
  • Allow access to tools that providers can use to make decisions about a patient’s care
  • Automate and streamline provider workflow

Health information can be created and managed by authorized providers in a digital format capable of being shared with other health care providers and organizations – such as laboratories, specialists, medical imaging facilities, pharmacies, emergency facilities, and school and workplace clinics. This means they contain information from all clinicians involved in a patient’s care.1

Advantages of Electronic Health Records

EHRs and the ability to exchange health information electronically can help provide higher quality, safer care for patients. EHRs help providers better manage patient care and deliver better health care by:

  • Providing accurate, up-to-date, complete information about patients at the point of care
  • Enabling quick access to patient records
  • Securely sharing electronic information with patients and other clinicians
  • Helping providers more effectively diagnose patients, reduce medical errors, and provide safer care
  • Improving patient and provider interaction and communication
  • Enabling safer, more reliable prescribing
  • Helping promote legible, complete documentation and accurate, streamlined coding and billing
  • Enhancing privacy and security of patient data
  • Reducing costs through decreased paperwork, improved safety, less duplication of testing, and improved health2

Medical Assistant Training

Having formal education, certification or a degree is a great advantage in being hired as a medical assistant, although there is always on-the-job training as well. Charter College’s medical assistant certificate program, available at 13 campuses, includes instruction in medical terminology and functions such as maintaining records, transcripts, accounts, and insurance processing.

Digitization of the healthcare industry has led to an increasing demand for qualified, experienced, and information technology-educated medical assistants. Practices now consider information technology skills as indispensable to medical assistant skill sets, so having training as a medical assistnat offers an advantage in the hiring process and job advancement.3

1 Health IT.gov. Learn EHR Basics, retrieved August 19, 2013, from http://www.healthit.gov/providers-professionals/learn-ehr-basic
2 Health IT.gov. What are the advantages of electronic health records? Retrieved August 19, 2013, from http://www.healthit.gov/providers-professionals/faqs/what-are-advantages...
3 EMR, EHR & Health Care Technology. What Do Practices Look for When Hiring a Medical Assistant? Retrieved August 19, 2013, from http://emrmeaningfuluse.blogspot.com/2011/07/what-do-practices-look-for-when-hiring.html