Electronic health records
Electronic health records are a digital collection of patient information that can be shared across different healthcare settings. The records can be shared through the internet, hospital-wide information systems and cloud-based computing.
The first electronic health records were started in the 1970s when computer technology was just getting started. In 1992, paper records were becoming inefficient in the U.S. and electronic health records were only used in academic centers, with very little use in clinical settings, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health.
The turning point came in 2009, when Congress passed a Great Recession-fighting stimulus package that included billions of dollars to digitize health records.
Now, electronic health records are becoming more universal and used in primary care exam rooms, nursing homes, hospice and other clinical settings. There have been problems along the way that include thousands of deaths, serious injuries and near misses related to system problems, according to a March 2019 report from Fortune and the Kaiser Family Foundation.
Nurses, however, are overall supportive of the systems because they are easy to access from one location and offer the promise of reducing confusion — not to mention filing cabinet space.