Maintaining a medical practice is no small task. With so much data to manage and organize, it can be difficult to keep everyone on the same page.
To improve efficiency and reduce errors, many health care providers are using electronic health records (EHR) to manage data. The EHR consolidates clinical information into a single interface to make it easy for health care providers to quickly access patient information and improve team collaboration.
EHR adoption has skyrocketed over the past decade. Up to 96% of hospitals and 86% of doctor’s offices have adopted EHR software – 9 times as many as in 2008. With the growing demand for virtual health solutions due to Covid-19, the need for healthcare software will continue to increase.
While there are hundreds of EHR solutions available to healthcare providers, there are a number of core EHR functions and capabilities that are critical to ensuring high-quality patient care.
Understanding the Basics of EHR Functionality
As EHR solutions started to become more commonplace in the early 2000s, the Institute of Medicine Committee on Data Standards for Patient Safety (IOM) created a definitive list of functions and capabilities of EHR software. These critical functions included:
- Health Information and Data
- Result Management
- Order Management
- Decision Support
- Electronic Communication and Connectivity
- Patient Support
- Administrative Processes Reporting
- Reporting and Population Health
Each function is designed to improve efficiency, patient care, disease management, and team collaboration. Even as time progressed and new, advanced features were added, these core EHR functions remain.
Detailed Health Information and Data
A primary benefit of EHR software involves collecting and organizing digital versions of patient records. Think of it as a digital filing cabinet for all your clinical data, such as:
- A patient’s medical history
- Immunizations and the dates
- Radiology and X-ray images
- Lab Results
Every EHR needs to be able to store, process, and organize data in a way that’s easy for medical professionals to retrieve. When caring for a patient, a healthcare professional can simply log into the EHR system, and all the patient information they need will be right there – no searching through stuffed filing cabinets.
When caring for a patient, you need to be sure you have the most recent information. An EHR solution allows healthcare professionals to quickly access new laboratory and test results. The minute new results come in, they’re uploaded to the EHR.
Even if a different team member takes over treatment, he or she will have access to the latest information to continue with treatment plans in real time. Teams can even look at past treatments to get full medical histories on patients to ensure no detail is overlooked.
In addition to result management, another of the core functions of EHR software is to share test results with other providers. Health care isn’t a solo endeavor, and often, many practices or providers need to work together to treat a single patient. EHR software allows healthcare providers to send patient information back and forth instantly for efficient collaboration.
Tracking orders for prescriptions and tests for so many patients can be complicated. Any good EHR system should provide you with the ability to enter and store orders for each individual patient to improve workflows and streamline the process. Order management comes with a number of benefits, including:
- Improving order execution speed
- Reducing duplication
- Enhancing legibility
Entering all orders in a single database reduces the likelihood of making mistakes, leading to better and safer patient care.
In healthcare, the provision of knowledge and decision support is crucial to enhancing the quality of patient care, safety, and accuracy in the decision-making process.
EHR software also has evidence-based tools that can help providers make decisions on a patient’s treatment plan. EHR decision support helps healthcare providers maintain compliance with best clinical practices by reminding them to follow existing treatment plans and procedures.
Many EHRs can also send notifications through SMS or email updates to patients about their treatment plans, reminding them to keep up with preventative practices.
Electronic Communication and Connectivity
Communication between healthcare providers and patients is essential for treatment. EHR solutions simplify the process with secure messaging systems that allow patients to ask questions directly through the EHR platform. Easy communication helps patients stay engaged in the treatment process.
EHR software provides patients with access to the support tools they need to answer questions and remain engaged in the healing process. This includes access to:
- Health Records
- Patient Education Materials
- Home-Monitoring Resources
Many EHR solutions include a patient portal where patients can log in for access to information specific to their healthcare needs. All the information stored in their EHR will be available 24/7.
Administrative Processes Reporting
Administrative processes are essential, but often a time-consuming part of practice management.
One of the core functions of EHR platforms is to automate and simplify many of these administrative tasks so that providers can spend more time and energy treating patients. Some processes that are automated include:
- Patient Outreach
- Time Management Tools
Storing all administrative data in a single electronic platform improves accuracy and enables more effective healthcare delivery, ensuring that nothing falls through the cracks.
Reporting and Population Health
Your practice has important information that can be used to benefit population health.
An effective EHR should allow clinics to transmit clinical data to public health entities, such as the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) or the Public Health Immunization Registry.
This information helps government entities track overall population health, create immunization forecasts, and control the spread of viruses or diseases.
True North Can Help You Implement These Functions of EHR Into Your Practice
While all EHR solutions have the above core EHR functions, they don’t all have the same specifications or features. In order to fully experience the benefits of EHRs, it’s important to choose EHR software that best suits your practice’s needs.
The best way to benefit from all the functions and capabilities of EHR software is to work with an expert like True North.
The professionals at True North have over 14 years of experience helping medical professionals identify, procure, implement, and manage the ideal EHR solutions for their businesses. We can help you navigate the ever-growing technology landscape, and enable you to provide the highest quality of patient care.
Contact us today to discuss your EHR needs and get started on the path to more effective and efficient healthcare.