EMR History

Paper-based records have been in existence for centuries and their gradual replacement by computer-based records has been slowly underway for over twenty years in most healthcare systems. Computerized information systems have not achieved the same degree of penetration in healthcare as that seen in other sectors such as finance, telecommunication, vehicle industries, etc. Further, deployment has varied greatly from country to country and in many cases has revolved around local systems designed for local use. National penetration of EMRs may have reached over a certain percentage in primary care practices in Rwanda. Electronic Medical Record systems lie at the center of any computerized health information system. Without them other modern technologies such as decision support systems cannot be effectively integrated into routine clinical workflow.
The paperless, interoperable, multi-provider, multi-specialty, multi-discipline computerized medical record, which has been a goal for many researchers, healthcare professionals for the past 20+ years, is however about to become reality in many countries. Incontrovertible evidence has increasingly shown that current systems are not delivering sufficiently safe, high quality, efficient and cost effective healthcare, and that computerization, with the EMR at the centre, is effectively the only way forward. Rwanda and other countries are implementing plans to build integrated computer-based national healthcare infrastructures based around the deployment of interoperable electronic medical record systems.

EMR Security

While people sometimes worry about the security of electronic records, they actually are much more secure than a paper record. With an electronic medical record, access is limited to staff who have a legitimate need to know for treatment, payment or operations purposes and activity is monitored on a regular basis.
All access to the EMR is controlled through individual user passwords. The added benefit of this password access is that staff and providers can have different levels of access to the EMR as determined by their position. For example, receptionists do not have access to patient medical information, whereas nurses and medical assistants do. In addition, electronic medical record systems are designed to prevent unauthorized users from gaining access to patient records through safeguards such as firewalls and other physical security measures. Keeping patient information secure also involves making provisions for backups and disaster recovery of data. Backups provide additional protection against loss through fire, water damage, etc.