Employee Benefits

Bedside Patient Notebooks and Electronic Medical Records


Advancements in health care systems are changing traditional medical treatment delivery methods. Some hospitals now are encouraging patients to participate in their care by jotting notes in a bedside notepad, and many health care providers are switching to electronic medical records systems. Both are considered vital to effective patient care.


Bedside Notebook
If you were hospitalized, would you use a bedside notepad to make notes, record questions or express thoughts about your health to review with your medical team?

Recently the University of Michigan Health System created a bedside notepad called Dear Doctor to enhance patient communications. They discovered that 65 percent of patients took advantage of the notepad, recording questions, test results and other information pertaining to their care. Researchers discovered that patients using this simple notepad reported having better communication with their medical team, including receiving responses to their questions and concerns. The majority of patients who used the notepad indicated they would use it again during future hospitalizations.

Electronic Medical Records
With the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, another emerging trend is the switch to recording medical information electronically. If you have visited a health care provider within the past year, you may have noticed nurses and doctors using a laptop computer or notepad when meeting with patients, in order to document information and medical test results.

According to a study conducted in the summer of 2013 with doctors using electronic health recorders (EHRs), many reported that the devices are helpful in providing quality care for patients, but believe they have less actual face time with patients. They also are concerned about the increased amount of time required to input and update electronic records, frustrated that they cannot communicate or share medical information with other EHR systems, and concerned that the cost of using EHRs is higher than initially projected.

Several health care watchdog groups also have expressed concern that the use of EHRs may violate patient privacy laws.

The use of electronic medical record devices originally was introduced in 2009 by Congress as part of the Meaningful Use program. While participation in the program is voluntary, health care providers who do not join the program by 2015 will receive decreased reimbursements for services provided to Medicare patients.

Read the following articles to learn more:

Open Communications: Integrating Medical Equipment with Electronic Health Records

FDA Safety Communication: Cyber Security for Medical Devices and Hospital Networks

Healthcare Providers May Violate HIPAA by Using Mobile Devices to Communicate with Patients