Can EHR Software Help Tackle COVID-19?

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As the novel coronavirus that causes Covid-19 is continuing its march around the world, healthcare providers are facing unprecedented challenges to fight the outbreak worldwide. The pandemic, to put it mildly, has thrown a wrench in the operations of many businesses and across the healthcare industry. However, the healthcare technologies are aiding in the fight to normalize the situation and have come to the fore to curb the transmission of Covid-19. Can EHR’s help fight COVID-19?

Several tools and software are readily available at the frontline. Many clinics already use the Electronic Health Record systems to streamline and expedite care delivery in a range of settings. Also, it is also helping doctors to diagnose quickly the cases that are expanding while they can also provide virtual care and prevent community spread of the virus.

During a disease outbreak, it becomes imperative that the data is shared with the clients across the platform. The EHR companies are updating the platform so that it can expand its telehealth capabilities and also implementing disease screening tools via updating the EHR dashboards.

EMR software companies are helping to stream the data as freely as possible without sacrificing privacy or other essential elements of ethical care and research. The healthcare professionals, with the help of EHR systems, can track diagnostic tests, locations of confirmed positive cases, and treatment results in a feasible manner. By testing more people and sharing more information faster through software during the coronavirus pandemic, the officials will more likely slow down the pace and spread of this contagious disease.

On top of that, the EHR companies are also taking additional steps to combat the pandemic by implementing telehealth solutions to identify patterns and potential signs of trouble better and waving licensing fees for the expansion of hospital beds at health systems.

For instance, Athenahealth is continuously updating the software to align with the existing structure. The new guidance released by Athenahealth is resulting in great help for patients and providers in getting the information out fast and efficiently with the help of testing orders and screening questions implemented within their EHR software.

Telehealth has become a fundamental way for the doctors to work and treat patients from a distance, especially as the government is calling on people to stay home. Here is a list of several telehealth solutions implemented by EHR companies that are helping to fight coronavirus worldwide.

Reducing Risk by Providing Virtual Care

The EHR platform proves to be very helpful in the containment areas. People can interact with healthcare providers through tools while reducing the risk of exposure. Virtual visits are also allowing the providers to conduct the diagnosis of coronavirus with the help of a telehealth system.

No doubt that virtual visits have been available for several years, but now in the face of COVID-19, pandemic healthcare providers have quickly jumped on this aspect of telehealth to provide care and protect the patients and limit the spread of the virus among the population worldwide. Patients who go to the healthcare center’s webpage will fill out an assessment in which they are required to fill their history and current symptoms. The patients can easily connect with healthcare professionals for an e-prescription or a telemedicine appointment; these virtual visits will help in providing the right and personalized guidance.

EHR and EMR software companies have built online video capabilities into their platforms. For the most part, they are incorporating to work with third-party platforms like Zoom or Microsoft Teams. Some healthcare providers are also taking full advantage of the video capabilities available within the EHRs like eClinicalWorks has a telehealth capability within its platform, which helps in providing safe and secure virtual visits within the electronic health record software. It offers better quality video and audio by leveraging the existing equipment by both providers and patients.


Patient Portals Help Identify the Pattern of Symptoms

Patient portals are not new, but the software has been updated by the vendors to identify better the patterns and potential signals that might cause trouble to the patients. Once the patient portals are linked to certified EHR technology, the medical staff, and healthcare providers can ask patients about recent travel history, associated symptoms, and other questions that could prompt isolation precautions.

In response to the rapid increase in the crisis, healthcare providers are also encouraging their patients to use the portals and schedule their virtual visit. Aside from limiting the spread of the virus and mitigating hospital overload, the patient portals are helping in treatment efficacy and patient satisfaction.

For instance, Athenahealth has released new guidance within its respective EHR software that helps to get information out to patients and providers via screening questions and testing orders more quickly. After screening, if the patient meets specific criteria, they are referred to a nearby testing site. And the results can be seen on the portal.


Telemedicine Integrations into Existing EHR Software:

It is giving healthcare practitioners an alternative to clinical visits, enabling them to provide care and prescribe medications while reducing the risk of exposure of patients as well as other staff. These are also resulting from being helpful for the patients who are in need of prescriptions and refills related to their periodic check-ups. The integrated solutions provided by EHR companies are empowering the healthcare sector to coordinate care securely with HIPAA compliance and reducing in-person visits and connecting with patients virtually via phone or computer. This will also be critical in prescribing new treatments and vaccines for COVID-19 as they become available.

Providing Guidance About Coronavirus with the Help of Chatbots:

These capabilities are already within EHRs to provide guidance and help patients identify symptoms earlier while reducing unnecessary visits. With the help of apt content and workflow, the practitioners can configure them and populate the system and prepare their patients for certain circumstances. Chatbots are created to help screen the users and also interact with the patients to answer questions about the disease.

One of the great examples is the tech giant, Microsoft has developed a chatbot where the patients who have recovered can determine if they will be able to donate their blood for plasma therapy for the patients suffering and awaiting for clinical treatment.

Automated Screening for Those at Risk:

Healthcare has tapped into an automated screening, the patients vulnerable to viruses are automatically engaged with a survey which is used for screening the patients and depending on the results of the survey, patients are regularly monitored for weeks. In case the reports indicate that the symptoms have increased and the patients around them are also getting affected, they can trace the patient’s potential location based on the zip code provided by them. Then they are directed to nearby clinics.

As the cases are increasing, the use of digital tools and platforms are empowering the operations of healthcare providers. With a powerful automation engine in place, leveraging a software platform integrated with EHR will help in quickly coordinating the unique care in general and fight against the pandemic. Specifically, at this time, the health systems should focus on automating the tasks- particularly screening, symptom tracking, patient portals, and overall communication. This will not only help the staff to focus on more severe cases but will reduce the transmission of the virus.

I am an EHR Consultant at SoftwareFinder with expertise that spans over a decade. I explore the implications of new technological trends in the EHR market and leverage them to facilitate business growth for medical practices. I lead the think tank at Software Finder and provides expert advice on EHR Implementation for medical practices in the US. As an avid believer in keeping customers involved, I channel my expertise in the form of blog articles that dissect healthcare security laws & regulations, EHR best practices, and platform comparisons, among other things in the EHR market. When I am not hard at work, I like to indulge in classic sci-fi movies and spend time with my dog.

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