The compilation of important data into a formless, easily-accessible medium is one of the technological highlights of the 21st century. With the inception of the internet and the subsequent innovation of cloud storage( alongside other wireless forms of information pooling), creating databases has become easier and more efficient. When it comes to the discipline of healthcare, the usage of electronic health records (EHRs for short) covers this, utilizing practical (but not necessarily advanced) technology to input patient data and analyze it. Other pieces of technology, such as personal health record apps for android, can also assist in that regard. Before the turn of the computer age in the late 20th Century, paper documents composed most if not all types of medical records and further back in time, even harder mediums of data inputting were used. The history of medical databases, from clay tablets to paper documents to electronic records, is an interesting one, revealing important things about human development.
Medical Records in Antiquity
In ancient civilizations such as in Egypt and Mesopotamia (whose territory now comprises several modern Middle Eastern countries such as Turkey), health records were already in being incorporated in their society’s healthcare, considering the complexity of the written languages that could be found there. In Mesopotamia, ancient Sumerian physicians recorded patient data on clay tablets using cuneiform, one of the earliest systems of writing. In Egypt, papyrus scrolls served this function, which is arguably a more efficient medium compared to the inconvenience of using stone for patient records. The usage of paper would later become the primary means of recording information for much of humanity’s progress.
From Paper to Electronics
Paper medical records would dominate the intervening years between the end of antiquity to the late 20th century, while the first digital computers were being developed in the early half of said era. Around the 1990s, when the Internet was beginning to entrench itself in the cultural/economic zeitgeist and the hardware of computers were beginning to become more optimized, the first “modern” EHRs were being developed for academic medical facilities. EHRs would later become the most prevalent piece of digital technology for healthcare, although paper never truly lost its utility, as the printing of physical documents is still part of EHR usage.
Future of Medical Databases
Today, the electronic health record has inherited the principles of medical papyrus scrolls and clay tablets in the ancient world, becoming the primary custodian of medical information and patient data. However, just like the previous forms of medical record, EHRs can still be improved, considering issues such as diagnosis error and patient-physician relationship deterioration due to the input-focused nature of some health records. The future may hold a possible next step in the advancement of medical databases, a possible replacement for the EHR. However, the advent of such a replacement is yet to be seen, so in the meantime, innovations such as the best medical apps for android can supplement and improve patient healthcare while EHRs, as imperfect as they may be, continue to fulfill their tasks.