EHR stands for electronic health record and is essentially the digital version of a patient's paper chart. An EHR is a real-time record that can be made available instantly and securely to those with authorization. EHRs contain patients' medical and treatment histories and more. They may also include diagnoses, treatment plans, immunization records, allergy information, radiology images, and test results.
Additionally, EHRs can be shared among authorized healthcare providers whether or not they are in the same healthcare organization. Laboratories, specialists, imaging facilities, pharmacies, emergency treatment facilities and even school or workplace clinics can access EHRs so everyone has a more comprehensive view of a patient's care and history.
1) They create a positive provider experience (most of the time).
Healthcare providers who have implemented EHRs have found them to be superior to paper files in many respects. A national survey in 2012 found that over three-quarters of providers said that EHRs make their practices function more efficiently. Eighty-two percent of respondents said that e-prescribing made possible by EHRs saves time, and 75% said they received lab results faster as a result of EHR implementation. A majority of providers believe EHRs help in their new physician recruiting efforts. While there have been incentive payments for practices implementing EHRs in recent years, even aside from the benefit payments, the financial impact can be tremendously positive, with large hospitals potentially saving millions of dollars per year.
2) EHRs can save your practice money.
The many efficiencies that result from implementing EHRs save medical practices money in many different ways. For example, transcription, chart pull, storage, and re-filing costs all drop significantly.
Another major way EHRs save practices money is through more accurate reimbursement coding and better documentation, which can reduce charge lag days and insurer denials. Error prevention alerts built into EHR systems can prevent costly medical mistakes. Physicians can also be alerted by EHR systems when a certain test can only be performed at a specified frequency. When facilities have easy, comprehensive access to medical records, providers and patients can work more efficiently to manage chronic conditions, which can be extremely costly when managed poorly.
3) Improved patient engagement and health management.
Patient participation in personal health management is particularly important when patients have chronic conditions like asthma, obesity, and diabetes. EHRs can indirectly help with patient participation in several ways. For example, access to comprehensive patient information can help physicians provide more accurate self-care and follow-up care instructions. They also allow easier appointment management and communication between patient and provider.
Patients benefit by having fewer forms to fill out when they visit their providers, as well as reminders that can be delivered by EHR systems. When a provider has an EHR and uses e-prescribing, there's no paper prescription to lose, and pharmacy service is quicker. Most EHRs also have an online patient portal that allow patients to interact with their physicians online.
4) Better patient outcomes.
When a person's healthcare providers all have reliable access to complete health information, problems can be diagnosed more quickly and accurately, for better patient outcomes.
For instance, an EHR contains information about the patient's allergies and medications, and when a new medication is prescribed, it can alert the prescriber to potential interactions or drug allergies. Such information can be extremely valuable in an emergency situation where a patient is unable to tell care providers about what medications they take or are allergic to. Paper-based records are harder to manage, more error-prone, and more difficult to gather important information from, particularly in situations where time is critical.
Electronic health records have the potential to transform provision of medical care. A strong EHR program can streamline procedures, contain costs, improve patient participation, and ultimately make for better health outcomes. There's simply no reason to stick with the inefficiencies and potential for problems associated with paper medical records.