The stack of papers known as a patient’s chart used to be one of the most important collections of data on an individual. While this was the standard for ages, it was rife with issues that could cause any number of problems downstream. Doctors are notorious for their incredibly illegible writing so it’s not so strange that misreading charts could cause issues. Human fallibility is one of the hardest issues to deal with in any business. Let alone ones where decisions can mean life or death.
It was only a matter of time before technology stepped in with its promise of curing all human error. While that’s a tall order, the introduction of Electronic Health Records (EHRs) has had incredible benefits for the medical field. What was intended to be an elevated version of a paper chart has become something even greater. Its real-time availability makes it useful to patients as well as doctors while still maintaining its secure status.
Eight Core Functions Of An ERH
With an eye toward higher quality, safer, and more efficient healthcare, Electronic Health Record Systems are designed with eight core functions for care delivery in mind. We’ll briefly cover these eight core functions and allow you to see the value for yourself.
1. Health Information And Data
The EHR should be a repository for all of a patient’s important data including diagnoses, lab results, medications, as well as allergies. This reduces the chances of mistreatment due to outdated data.
2. Result Management
New and past test results should be easily and quickly accessible by all medical professionals involved in the patient’s care no matter the setting. This increases the efficiency of care, as waiting on other departments is no longer necessary.
3. Order Management
Logistics is a bottleneck for any industry. Keeping track of every order to every department can be a nightmare. Lost orders or improperly filled orders can waste everyone’s time and money. Providing a centralized electronic place to enter and track orders for tests, prescriptions and other services reduces chances of error from legibility or chances for duplication.
4. Decision Support
It’s of little help to diagnose an issue when patients have trouble following through with recommended courses of action. EHRs feature reminders, prompts, and alerts to help keep patients on track with care. These are also great for ensuring that preventative care and recommended screenings are happening. All of this supports improved adherence to best practices.
5. Electronic Communication And Connectivity
Arguably one of the most important features of an EHR is its ability to travel anywhere the patient goes and provide secure access to real-time patient data. This access greatly speeds up the ability to reach a relevant diagnosis without waiting to collect data from many sources. The likelihood of misdiagnosis due to incomplete info is greatly diminished.
6. Patient Support
EHRs give the opportunity to allow patients to be far more interactive in their care by providing them greater access to their health records, a means for home monitoring and self-testing, as well as plenty of supplemental education. This is especially useful with patients undergoing treatment for chronic conditions.
7. Administrative Processes And Reporting
Incorporating administrative tools like scheduling systems directly into the EHR allows for greater efficiency and fewer missed appointments. Administrative details can be handled outside the office if necessary within the software through a patient portal.
8. Reporting And Population Health
The centralized collection and aggregation and standardization of patient data can be used to see trends more quickly and more easily, allowing for greater response times to population-level trends and disease vectors.
While EHRs have come a long way, the interoperability of them has not. Initially, and still, the interoperability between hospitals is better; but not by much. And the government is only watching them. The EHRs for providers have not really started to work on interoperability, since the government is not overseeing that just yet…. That will come at a later date.