How e-health records improve healthcare: A cancer patient's story

Going paperless helped Pam Crum deal with medical bureaucracy

1 2 3 Page 2
Page 2 of 3

"Each time I went in I'd have to write down every vitamin, every dietary supplement and the medications I had taken, and was taking, the dosage, the frequency," she said. "Having the added stress of having to track down pieces of paper or films, driving to that place and getting them to where they needed to be. It was just one more thing I had to do in a situation where I already wasn't feeling well."

The chemotherapy drugs Crum took not only caused hair loss, but joint pain, too. Despite anti-nausea medications, she was constantly tired and achy.

At 36 weeks, Crum's physicians induced labor and she gave birth to her daughter, Grace. While women undergoing chemotherapy during pregnancy sometimes give birth to underweight babies, Grace was perfectly healthy. There was no delay in being able to take her home.

Crum completed her chemotherapy in May 2005, and to avoid the cancer reoccurring, had a double mastectomy. Six months later, her physicians found ovarian cysts, which brought in a second oncologist, another round of radiation treatments -- and more sheafs of paper records.

Crum has been cancer free since finsihing her treatment, but because of the high risk for patients who've had inflammatory breast cancer, she continues to visit doctors in Georgetown at least six times a year. But over the past two years, since EHRs have been rolled out, there's been a stark difference.

"It used to be that whenever I had a mammogram or an MRI, I had to pick up the films in Virginia, take them to Georgetown, and then return them to Virginia," Crum said. "I was doing a lot of shuttling. But now, they just send the images electronically to each of my providers. It's fantastic. I don't have to do anything. They also transmit my bone density scans electronically.

"Even if there would be an issue, the doctors at Georgetown will have a chance to review and study the films before my appointment," she continued. "When I was bringing in the films myself, they would be looking at them for the first time while I was right there."

The EHRs also allow Crum's physicians to see what blood tests are due, and put everything on the same order for the blood draw. Prior to the EHR, Crum had to get two separate pieces of paper for the blood draws. That sometimes it meant separate trips to the lab.

The Crum family
Pam Crum with her husband Charlie and her daughters Charlotte, 10, and Grace, 6. Pam was pregnant with Grace (front center) when she was diagnosed with breast cancer.

EHRs improve patient outcomes

Studies have also shown that EHRs can make medical treatment more effective.

1 2 3 Page 2
Page 2 of 3
7 inconvenient truths about the hybrid work trend
Shop Tech Products at Amazon