How do Electronic Health Records Improve Patient Care?

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A 2017 survey conducted by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) found more than 95% of all hospitals in the United States possessed certified electronic health record technology. This number represents a significant jump in adoption from just a few years before; in 2011, only 72% of hospitals had invested in certified systems. So why is that and how do electronic health records improve patient care?

The COVID-19 pandemic also accelerated EHR implementation and innovation by highlighting the vast importance of housing patient information in a secure, centralized, and virtually accessible format. It is safe to say that—at least in America—paper records are a thing of the past. Even so, the healthcare industry has a long way to go to capitalize on the massive opportunity that EHRs and related technology present for improving patient care and augmenting patient safety.

This post explores the numerous benefits that EHRs offer to provider groups, hospitals, and health systems. Use this summary to guide your organization’s strategy in implementing and expanding your EHR system to ensure you get the most out of your investment.

 

Defining EHR, EMR

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) offer a succinct definition of EHR: “an electronic version of a patient’s medical history.”

The ONC, however, notes a bit more nuance:

  • An electronic medical record (EMR) is the digital version of paper charts recording medical and treatment history within a provider practice
  • An electronic health record (EHR) focuses on capturing the total patient profile and offering providers a comprehensive, centralized view of their populations across systems and care settings

Though these concepts are not the same, for the purposes of this blog post, we will keep it simple by using both the terms EMR and EHR to represent an inclusive report of a patient’s health journey.

 

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Benefits of EMRs in Healthcare

The benefits of EMR systems over paper records are well-documented and widely agreed upon throughout the industry. That is not to say that digital records and platforms are without flaws – but that the importance of EMRs to the healthcare industry is evident. There are numerous benefits of EMR for patients, including:

  • Enhanced patient experience and care quality
  • Improved clinician productivity and precision
  • Minimized medical errors

Let’s dive a bit deeper into these advantages.

 

How Do Electronic Health Records Improve Patient Care?

Using EHRs can improve patient care by:

  • Delivering complete, up-to-date information about patients at each point and site of care
  • Supporting care coordination efforts across the continuum
  • Aiding clinicians in effective, accurate diagnostic strategies
  • Facilitating better patient-provider interactions and communications
  • Offering patients an accessible view into their own health data (via patient portals) to empower decision-making

 

How Do Electronic Health Records Boost Provider Performance?

Benefits of EMR Systems

When set up and executed in a thoughtful, thorough manner, EMR systems also have the ability to:

  • Securely exchange information with specialists, consultants, and other clinicians who can support the patient’s care path
  • Promote complete, clear documentation and streamlined coding and billing
  • Improve efficiency and balance by decreasing paperwork and supporting clinical decision-making processes
  • Serve as powerful risk management tools, specifically within diagnostic and prescribing processes

Reduce costs of transcription, chart management, and report generation

 

How Do Electronic Health Records Augment Patient Safety?

Though technology is sometimes met with concerns about privacy and security, the EMR and patient safety actually go hand-in-hand. Examples of positive impact include:

  • Reduced incidence of medical error
  • Enhanced accuracy and clarity of medical records
  • Increased volume of patient-centered, safety-oriented workflows, policies, and practices

Lowered rates of medication-related errors resulting from the use of computerized physician order entry and automated potential conflict alerts

 

How to Achieve the Full Benefits of EMR Systems

The road to a high-functioning, well-run EHR system is winding and bumpy but can be remarkably rewarding. At TrueNorth, we specialize in helping healthcare organizations select, implement, adopt, and advance EHR systems – allowing providers to focus on supporting patients and patients to focus on sustaining health.

Book a consultation with us today to get a custom plan for maximizing benefits from your EHR investments and initiatives.

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