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Computer Mediated Clinical Consultations; The Impact Of The Computer Essay Example

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9COMPUTER MEDIATED CLINICAL CONSULTATIONS

Computer Mediated Clinical Consultations; The Impact Of The Computer

Introduction

Computer mediated clinical consultations have become the principal tools for bridging the gap between doctors and efficient medical care. Their use improves certain elements of consultation as they improve the integrity of medical records, in addition to the increase in patient safety, and accuracy of prescriptions. During the last four decades, the use of computers in health care has increasingly become the standard (Benson, 2002a). The main domain areas for adopting these technologies are in the areas of clinical consultations and medical records. In spite of the dramatic rise in the use of computers, clinicians and patients and clinicians are still uncertain about their roles in the consultation (Bradshaw-Smith, 1976; Grummit, 1976). It is based on this foundation that this paper examines the impacts of computer mediation in these areas. It further examines medical records and their roles, the introduction of the computers in supporting clinical consultations, as well as the impact of Computer mediated clinical consultations on patient care and health system.

Medical record and its role

Medical record is essentially a record of the medical history, diagnosis, care, treatment, and prescriptions of a patient. In the era of computer mediated clinical consultations, the widespread use of electronic medical records, which is the electronic version or a patient’s medical records, continuous to prevail. The role of medical records in computer mediated clinical consultations cannot be downplayed (Benson, 2002b).

The electronic medical records provide flexibility in terms of accessing the patient records. For instance, the GPs can easily access the records by searching the data base, rather than search through backlog of data. This is particularly so as the demands of the GPs have becomes increasingly demanding for any record system as they often look to have an everyday service with extraordinary flexibility that can lead to sufficient exploitation of the available records. It also provides flexibility in respect to accessing content and analysing records (Grummitt, 1976).

They also increase accessibility of medical record. Each patient record becomes easily accessible to the authorised medical practitioners at the surgery and other departments without the need for additional secretarial work assistance (Benson, 2002b).

They also promote efficiency in medical data management, interpretation, and use. They allow for entry of data during consultations. The data can still be edited whenever necessary. The electronic medical records also provide an exceedingly confidential data backup service that only allows the authorised medical practitioners with clinical responsibility for particular patients to access the records (Grummitt, 1976).

They display records to the medical staff in real time. For instance, the visual display unit (VDU) displays records on the medical practitioners’ desk after the secretary has entered the records when the patients register (Bradshaw-Smith, 1976). The electronic medical records also provide a free-format narrative in English, or any other language, that can be understood by all doctors without having to decode the data (Grummitt, 1976).

The electronic medical records have also promoted data security. For instance, it provides secure data storage, as it only allows the authorised medical staff to access the data (Grummitt, 1976). In turn, the patient is issued a health centre number that the doctor can enter into the database to access his records.

Introduction of the computer to support clinical consultations

During the last four decades, general practice computing has steadily advanced prompted by economic and leadership incentives. Mostly, the government and the medical profession as a whole have combined efforts eliminate barriers to enhance computerization. At present, nearly all GPs own computers within the consultation rooms (Benson, 2002a). They are also connected to the internet. Historically, by 1996, some 96 percent of the GPs in the United Kingdom had been introduced to computer systems. By 2001, the number of consultant with access to computers had increased significantly and used the networks such as NHSnet for purposes of browsing and emailing (Benson, 2002a).

The introduction of computers to consulting goes back to 1970 when John Preece became the first general practitioner to use a computer in his consulting room. By 1975, Ottery St Mary health centre emerged as the first paperless general practice, before it became totally integrated with other local hospitals to allow authorized GPs to share information during consultations (Benson, 2002a).

During the 1960s and into the 1970s, most computer mediated projects were funded by the government. For instance, the first word-based access to clinical test results was founded by Donald Lindberge, which was later established by the government in England during the early 1970s. Still in the 1970s, the general practice was introduced to computer printed prescription forms to allow for safety in prescriptions during consultation (Benson, 2002a).

The Department of Health had by 1981 permitted the use of computer printed prescription. Such policy changes encouraged the propagation of general practices computing, which saved time and improved patient safety. Investing in computer systems in hospitals increased in 2001, after the Labour Government proclaimed it had increased expenditure on hospital computerisation. This led to further rapid rise in use of computers to support clinical consultations in hospitals (Benson, 2002a).

Impact on the patient care

Computer mediated clinical consultations have led to improved diagnostics. Since the doctors are provided with the patient’s accurate and complete information, it advances the capacity to diagnose diseases as well as to lessen medical errors. In turn, this improves patient outcomes (Grummitt, 1976). They provide accurate data, which ensures effective analysis, research in addition to day-to-day consultations.

The computer mediated clinical consultations have also led to increase patient safety. The electronic medical records also provide a consistent service that is accessible the whole day as well as which can duplicate remote equipment adequately while ensuring that no interim data is lost (Grummitt, 1976).

The computer mediated clinical consultations ensure improved patient outcomes as they enable evidence-based decision-making at the point-of-care. This is grounded on the ability of the technologies to search for and assemble information. For instance, the automatic recall system (through the use of a hospital computer) are efficient as they can recall data from patients with similar symptoms, or other empirically research data. This allows for doctors to make sound decisions based on empirical data (Grummit, 1976).

They also provide integrated safeguards against prescription of treatments that may lead to adverse events. The clarity and accuracy of the information that the termiprinter prints to be relayed automatically to the consultant when a patient gets referred to another hospital saves time to read and search through the record (Bradshaw-Smith, 1976).

They prevent medical errors. Accurate data on patient symptoms, diagnosis, as well as treatment can be relayed through the health care system, which improves the possibilities of accessing accurate data. For instance, once a patient gets referred to another hospital, the termiprinter prints a summary of the patient’s record, which is relayed automatically to the consultant. Therefore, they ensure that each patient record is available to the doctor at the surgery or even during home visits. The record is accurate as it reflects the patient’s actual historical data (Bradshaw-Smith, 1976).

Impact on the health system

The computer mediated clinical consultations have maximized the technical features that support the health systems, including the speed and functionalities like entering patient information, documenting patient diagnosis and providing automated reports (Bradshaw-Smith, 1976).

They also save time by reducing documentation time. For instance, the entries are easily made during the consultation time. Rather than rewrite the data to share to other medical practitioners, the data can be easily copy-pasted, hence saving time. They also provide the possibilities to edit out data that is out-of-date. The features for editing ensure brevity and clarity of data (Bradshaw-Smith, 1976).

They ensure reduced healthcare costs. They enable health care providers to integrate data and data sharing with other departments and organizations with the need to duplicate data (Grummitt, 1976).

They ensure improved medical information security. They are essentially a structured record that however provides restricted access to data. This ensured added confidentiality as no unauthorised persons or agencies can read the records. Only the authorised personnel can access the patient screen once they have signed in with their private passwords (Bradshaw-Smith, 1976

They provide an efficient data backup system. In the event of breakdown, backed up record can still be accessed wholly, as information is not lost. For instance, back-up such as microfilm of computer records generated and stored in microfiche can be stored under lock and key as backup. The microfiche can in turn be reproduced whenever needed (Bradshaw-Smith, 1976).

They also reduce data errors as well as lead to speedy data management and retrieval. For instance, an underlying benefit of the record keeping system is attained when the
editing features of the VDU such as “insert,” or “delete,” are exploited. Additionally, a clear display with an accurate layout and brief content emphasises priority data, which improves data retrieval even as it links to data on patient symptoms, diagnosis as well as treatment (Grummitt, 1976).

Discussion and conclusion

During the last four decades, the use of computers in health care has increasingly become the standard the areas of clinical consultations and medical records. The electronic medical records provide flexibility in terms of accessing the patient records. They also increase accessibility of medical record and promote efficiency in medical data management, interpretation, and use. Additional roles include provision of a consistent error-free data that is accessible by authorized hospital personnel. The electronic medical records have also promoted data security. On the other hand, the computer mediated clinical consultations have led to improved diagnostics and increased patient safety. They have also improved patient outcomes as they enable evidence-based decision-making at the point-of-care. They also provide integrated safeguards against prescription of treatments that may lead to adverse events and prevent medical errors. They have also reduced reduce medical errors.

Overall, computer mediated clinical consultations have maximized the technical features that support the health systems, including the speed and functionalities like entering patient information, documenting patient diagnosis and providing automated reports.

References

Benson, T. (2002a). Why General Practitioners use Computers and Hospital Doctors do not Part 1: Incentives. British Medical Journal 325(9), 1086-1089

Benson. T. (2002b). Why General Practitioners use Computers and Hospital Doctors do not. British Medical Journal 325,1090-1093

Bradshaw-Smith, J. (1976). A computer record-keeping system for general practice. British Medical Journal, 1, 1395-1397

Grummit, A. (1976). Real-Time Record Management In General Practice. Inf. J. Bio-Medical Computing 8, 1310150