6 Disadvantages Of Using Paper Patient Records

Paper patient records

Expectations amongst clinical staff is driving the move towards using digital patient records as everyone wants to be able to access data immediately like they can do in other aspects of life.

However reports show that 44% of medical organisations are still using paper records, with the main driver behind this being financial. Remaining paper-based comes with virtually no upfront costs as opposed to an EPRF approach but it does however come with a range of disadvantages which we will explore below.

1. No back ups

In the event of a fire or a flood where records are destroyed or if paper records are simply just misplaced you leave yourself at risk due to having no backups. Due to clinical governance requirements relating to reviewing patient information it is vital that you can back up your data. With an electronic patient forms approach all data can be backed up regularly to off-site cloud storage areas.

2. Slow Searching and Retrieval

If you are physically storing paper records this makes it a time consuming process when you need to search for a specific record or incident. This delay in retrieving key data could have an impact on patient care if time is being spent finding records instead of providing treatment. Using EPRF’s it makes searching faster and you also benefit from everything that is recorded being time-stamped which gives you a complete audit trail.

Searching for paper patient records

3. Human Error

With paper records you are leaving yourself open to potential human errors. If someone misinterprets another colleague’s handwriting or if part of the paperwork is incomplete it affects patient care. A digital approach leaves no uncertainty over handwriting and you can ensure all data is provided by making key data fields mandatory. With our solutions (ARCEMS and ARCCTS) we also set alerts that show if a patient observation reading is outside expected parameters in case someone has mis-typed to help cut down on the human error factor.

4. Rekeying of information

Chances are if you’re using paper records in the hospital, ambulance or air ambulance these will need to be entered into a computer at a later date. This rekeying of data is essentially doubling the workload and using up valuable resources rather than having the paramedics enter the data once via a digital platform.

5. Privacy issues

Paper records do present a security risk too. Records could be left unattended and seen by people who shouldn’t be able to access them. You aren’t able to password protect data or set clearance levels meaning only authorised users can access them like you can with electronic patient record software. Digital records also benefit from complex encryption for an additional layer of security.

6. Physical storage

All paper records need to be stored somewhere and you can end up needing to store years worth of records. All of this comes at a cost of a) having somewhere to store them, b) having people responsible for storing the records and c) having people to dispose of records which are no longer needed. If you were using digital records you could store records in cloud based servers which are perfect for scalability and you could even set expiration dates so that records are automatically deleted after a certain time period. This will save you both time, money and space.

Making the move

On top of the above disadvantages, a recent study identified the main reasons given for why doctors were switching to EPRF’s which were:

    • 45% wanted more efficiencies and time saving options
    • 41% wanted more automation
    • 14% needed a more secure option that met regulatory requirements
    • 13% needed a system that integrated with their billing system
    • 8% wanted a scalable system to keep up with their expected growth

Find out more

If your critical care transfer team or air ambulance service are still using a paper based approach and want to move to a digital setup simply complete the form below and our team will be in touch to arrange a free no obligation demo of our software.

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