In February 2009, President Obama signed the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act into law with the anticipation that the progression of electronically protected health information (ePHI) would allow healthcare providers to share vital patient information, reducing overall costs.
Electronic Health Records
Health systems across the country were on board…and quickly, with many facilities taking steps to achieve compliance as early as 12 months after enactment. Healthcare enterprises were given monetary incentives for their initiatives, providers could access patient information without having to dig through hundreds of patient charts, and the loss of diagnostic images was significantly reduced.
Fast forward to today. A motion that was once seen as just an opportunity to reduce nation-wide healthcare costs has become a gateway to improve the overall patient experience. By now, most patients aren’t shocked when they see clinicians typing notes into a computer during doctor’s office visits. They’re even used to viewing tests results from home through an online portal.
Now it’s time for step two. For hospitals and outpatient facilities to take full advantage of their electronic health record (EHR) systems, they need to expand beyond basic digital information input and evolve into utilizing a broader model.
Clinical Benefits of a Complete Electronic Health Record
EHRs make a difference in the patient experience. When healthcare providers have reliable access to a complete record, they provide better and more efficient care. By transitioning to a wider EHR model, health systems can expect to achieve numerous patient-centric benefits like…
Have you ever heard the phrase “there’s nothing worse than a doctor’s handwriting”? While it may make you chuckle, illegible handwritten clinicians’ notes, lab orders, or prescriptions really do lead to a large number of issues. EHRs nearly eliminate these errors as they allow for better standardization and management of documentation and patient information.
On top of that, a complete record has the ability to tell a clinician everything they need to know about a patient’s history. This becomes especially important in trauma situations. With the correct data clinicians in the ED can actually know about a patient’s life-threatening allergy and adjust care accordingly.
Managing risk in a healthcare setting is not an easy task. With reimbursements swiftly declining, it’s more crucial now than ever for health systems to identify and protect themselves from high-risk areas that could result in harm to patients, visitors, staff, or the enterprise. If a risk management or liability situation arises, having complete patient records could be the shield a health system needs to reinforce strategic medical decisions or treatment plans.
Comprehensive EHRs can not only produce complete and legible records to aid in reconstructing what actually occurred during a patient visit or at the point of care, but they can also instantaneously provide evidence that suggests informed consent.
Public Health Outcomes
Health systems that have access to a complete patient record can help large patient groups to address preventative health issues. By utilizing “big data” analytics, providers can be alerted to potential outbreaks, such as the flu, or more meaningfully serve the needs of patients who suffer from specific conditions. This means that if a population group is eligible for a specific preventative measure or treatment, health systems would be able to gather a list of qualified patients based on their unique risk-factors and health history to better improve patient outcomes.
Many top health systems around the country are creating complete electronic health records so they can provide the high-quality care patients deserve while simultaneously streamlining operational processes and reducing overall cost.