To be actively involved in your own medical care, you need to understand the basics about electronic medical records, health information exchanges, and more. Check out our primer.
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When you sign up as a patient with a medical practice, a physician or a nurse will likely create an electronic health record to document your medical information on a continuing basis. This computerized record may include demographic data such as age and gender, progress notes, diagnoses, medications, vital signs, past medical history, immunizations, laboratory data, and radiology reports. A fully functional EHR--which describes many, but not all, EHR systems--also includes "decision support" tools such as drug interaction checkers and prompts to provide needed preventive and chronic care. Fully functional EHRs also allow providers to prescribe medications and order lab and imaging tests electronically.