Paper is Safer? Depends Whom You Ask

Electronic medical records (EMRs) are safer than their paper counterparts, according to a new survey of physicians—but a similar survey of patients didn’t get the same response. They think paper is still safer, which means some education is in order.

The survey, which was conducted by GfK Roper on behalf of Practice Fusion, asked patients and medical professionals how they view EMR safety versus paper chart safety.

Fifty-four percent of physicians answered that EMRs are safer, with just 18 percent selecting paper as the safer option. Patient views, however, differed: Forty-seven percent of them said paper is safer, with 39 percent selecting EMRs as the safer option.

Also interesting is why physicians and patient responded the way they did when choosing paper records. Of physicians who believe paper is the safer option, 36 percent said paper is more secure because it is less likely to be hacked or lost. Of patients who believe paper is the safer option, 59 percent said paper records are more private than EMRs, allowing for more control over who sees them.

Interestingly, of the patients who said EMRs are safer, 77 percent said the greatest benefit of EMRs over paper records is being able to access records when needed.

What does it mean? The medical community is rejecting paper charts and embracing technology, says Practice Fusion—and that’s easy to understand if you’re a practicing physician who has any experience with an EMR. But it’s also easy to understand patient concerns, which means more education about why EMRs are safer than paper charts is necessary.

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