Electronic health records are beneficial in numerous ways. Both large and small physician practices are rapidly switching to electronic health records from paper charts.
With the implementation of the electronic health record system, it becomes easier for healthcare providers to manage the patient records and optimize their clinical processes. Besides, some simple benefits such as easier management of records, time-saving, and optimization of resources that EHRs bring in, there are numerous other benefits of electronic health records for patients that have also become instrumental in improving the quality of patient care.
How does electronic health records improve patient care?
Quality of care improves
With the implementation of electronic health records, all the health information of the patients such as medical history, laboratory tests, and records of allergies, vital signs, history of previous ailments, diagnoses and mediation history become readily available to physicians. A physician can get an overview of the complete medical condition of a patient, just in few clicks.
Automation of clinical processes
Not only medical health records are convenient, but the electronic system also automates the whole care process. The rapid switching to electronic health records has garnered a huge repository of patient health records digitally stored. This not only has opened doors to population health management rather electronic health records are now easier to maneuver for the automation of clinical processes. Electronic health records based clinical automation starts from the front desk with computerized patient data entry and moves on to EHR based medical checkups, lab ordering, e-prescriptions, and electronic submission of insurance claims, follow-ups, and electronic payments. It means that switching to electronic health records has opened doors to a whole new world of clinical automation.
Ease of access
Patient health records are not easier to store and access. If it’s a large physician practice then it requires a huge repository to store files in racks and dedicated human resources to manage the patient records and finding them when they are required. If a patient is diagnosed with a chronic disease or requires consultation with multiple physicians and visit numerous healthcare facilities then these health records become highly fragmented. It becomes really difficult not only for the patients to compile and carry all the records but impossible for each physician to have all the records at one place. It can further jeopardize the whole care process and increases the cost of care when multiple physicians can order duplicate lab inspections and result in duplicate tests. Benefits of electronic health records for patients include that it’s easier to store, access and investigate.
With the availability of electronic health records, physicians can easily get an overview of the history and recent medical treatments. As electronic health records are easier to store and access, which means that complete, up-to-date, and accurate health condition of the patient becomes easily accessible. Diagnosis becomes easier as compared to the traditional way of handling the care flow.
Electronic health records are instrumental in making the health care system patient-centered. With the ease of access to health records through integrated patient portals, the whole care process has moved out of the examination room. It has activated the patient’s role in the care process. Electronic health records have also bridged the communication gap between patients and medical practices. Now patients have access to physician notes and can analyze it from the comfort of their homes. Reviewing their visit notes, patients can communicate through online messaging. Adoption of electronic health records has overall made the care process patient-centered.
When new medical technologies come along with electronic health records it definitely influences the care process and reduces the operational cost of medical practice. With the use of computerized provider order entry (CPOE), the clinical workflow further optimizes. Cost-saving with the use of electronic health records come in various ways. For instance, computerized entry of the inpatients improves the coordination of care and reduces the cost associated with patient management. An efficient and more coordinated communication and optimized processes impact the system positively. Electronic health records integrated with computerized provider order entry is one such example where care delivery processes are optimizing.
On the administrative end, health records keeping involve a lot of hassle. It requires a lot of time and trained medical staff to manage the physical records. However, electronic health records are easier to store and access. Previously clinical staff used to spend a lot of time in the processing of forms and other papers related to health records. Use of electronic health records has decreased the cost associated with paper records printing and management.
Time savings for health professionals and patients
Use of electronic health records is time efficient. In the paper bases medical system, physicians had to spend hours in documenting patient records and were quoted as the most common reason for physician burnout. Accessing, documenting and storing electronic health records is time efficient and saves a lot of time.
Digital archives are making it easier to access patient records. Even during the natural disasters the electronic system has proven efficient and damage free with cloud technology integration. Even when patients are under calamity, electronic health records can reveal the whole medical history.
Fewer clinical and medical errors
Integration of the electronic health records with EHR decision support systems (DSS) is the key to improve the quality of care. For instance, it reduces the possibility of error and prompts the physician with an alert if a prescribed medicine does not suite, which is a huge benefit of electronic health records for patients.
Practices which have switched to electronic health records have reported a decrease in the possibility of human errors associated with record keeping. There is a lesser chance of misplacing important health records and if there are proper backups than the medical staff can easily trace back the sources. Availability of these health records online has made it convenient to share across the globe.
Improved medical practice efficiencies
These systems are also sending constant reminders to the patients for prevention’s, screening, and visit the doctors through integrated patient portals. While on the contrary the paper records are limited to the healthcare facility. Electronic health records are now universally accessible, which means no matter where the physician is located, health records can be accessed from everywhere. It has become handy to connect with the insurance carrier, laboratories, pharmacies, and other health facilities. Overall this connectivity has reduced the possibility of duplicate medical claims and has expedited the insurance claim process as well.
Incentives of switching to electronic health records
Despite decades of transformation, the process of switching to electronic health records has been slow. It can be very costly for the healthcare providers to provide their staff with an electronic health record system training, and shift the whole system themselves. These incentives have facilitated the providers to invest in the new system. To expedite this, many federal and state-run programs have incentivized physician practices for adoption. The federal government has so far invested billions in incentives and billions more to educate healthcare IT workers to assist medical providers in the conversion process.
Electronic health records are of course way better than the conventional paper-based healthcare system. It has opened a whole new era of clinical automation. With the advent of electronic health records, data researchers are looking into new ways and technologies that can make healthcare more efficient.