With the rise of digital transformation, new technologies are revolutionizing the healthcare industry. Practitioners all over the world have now switched to electronic health records. Compared to other industries, this change in the medical field took a considerable amount of time. But, it’s clear the benefits of an EHR system far outweigh the alternative… No EHR System!
After implementing the 2009 Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act, US clinics were provided sufficient funds to adapt to newer electronic practices in data recording.
As a result, 76% of healthcare practices utilized the benefits of Electronic Health Record (EHR) software. With its array of benefits and growing popularity, the Global Electronic Health Records (EHR) Market is expected to reach $33,294 million by 2023.
Photo by Wesley Tingey on Unsplash
What is an EHR?
EHR stands for Electronic Health Records and is the digitized form of a patient’s health chart and other essential information. However, it is not only related to digital documentation. Instead, EHR deals with the storage, maintenance, timely analysis, and electronic sharing of medical data.
EHR systems store all administrative and clinical information pertinent to patient care like demographics, allergies, problems, medications, vital signs, immunization, medical history, and radiology reports. Once entered, the EHR can be shared across multiple organizations like emergency facilities, pharmacies, laboratories, and more.
According to experts at HealthIT.gov, electronic health records
“Beyond standard clinical data collected in a provider’s office, including a broader view of a patient’s care.”
Benefits of Electronic Health Records
An EHR enhances proper coordination in healthcare organizations and makes it simpler for practitioners and patients to access the data. It offers multiple benefits like:
1. Less Paperwork and Improved Storage
A few decades back, medical care was associated with a ton of paperwork. There were several forms to fill and store, both by the patient and the organization. As a result, the administrative department in hospitals and clinics was always overworked.
With EHR, the data storage became much more manageable and streamlined a massive chunk of administrative duties. It saves time and effort in terms of information accumulation and maintenance. Additionally, computerized records eliminated the need to stack paper files in storage rooms.
2. Increased Patient Information Accuracy
Before the technological advancements infiltrated the healthcare industry, over 60% of medication errors were attributed to illegible handwriting. However, the electronic data filing process made it easier for the respective authorities to keep vital records. As such, EHRs lead to a reduction of a whopping 52% in the occurrence of adverse drug events.
Additionally, the digitized process reduces the chances of mishaps like data stealing, damage, misplacement, or alteration of sensitive records. It can also show a list of individuals who accessed the records. As a result, physicians can access accurate patient information and work accordingly. In the words of Sandhya Pruthi, MD, Mayo Clinic,
“I can quickly and easily pull test results in the exam room to review with my patients.”
3. Better Quality of Patient Care
As stated above, EHRs help reduces the risk of error in patient records. With improved data accuracy, the correct and timely diagnosis rate also increases significantly. Different healthcare organizations can access an individual’s medical history or the current charts at the click of a button.
EHRs also help patients by providing complete access to data and sending timely appointment reminders. Electronic prescribing provides complete medication information and even tracks harmful drug interactions. Needless to explain, patient safety is indirectly improved by digital records.
4. Allows Interoperability
Electronic Health Records (EHRs) work well in sync with Electronic Medical Records (EMRs) and help healthcare centers deliver optimum patient care. In case the medical condition demands interference or a second opinion from a third-party expert, digital records come in handy.
Any specialists or laboratory technicians authorized to access your records can access your medical history with the help of EHR software. Doing so reduces the extra chatter and leaves no ambiguity between different doctors while treating the same patient. The treatment plans don’t overlap, and the chances of harmful drug interaction are nil.
5. Beneficial in Emergencies
There can be several cases where patients cannot carry medical records or dictate past treatment history to their doctors. For example, road accidents, anaphylactic shock, sudden cardiac arrest, being stuck in natural disasters, etc. In such instances, EHR can help retrieve all the pertinent health records for physicians to provide urgent medication.
If the records aren’t checked beforehand, there are chances of severe drug reactions. For example, a patient allergic to penicillin or other chemicals should be administered alternate antibacterial medicines. Here, the availability of electronic health records can be life-saving for an individual.
6. Increased Revenue
Like other healthcare organizations, healthcare establishments also aim to maximize their revenue. With features like income management and different billing tools, EHR software can streamline the salary distribution process for all employees. Additionally, it can check claims for any mistakes or coding errors, thus improving the chances of insurance approvals and quick reimbursements.
Several government schemes ensure the widespread implementation of EHR resources and tools. To meet the set standards, healthcare organizations can earn up to tens of thousands of dollars extra for using electronic health records.
Electronic Health Record (EHR) is deemed one of the top innovations in technological advancements in the medical field. It helps store all the crucial patient information like demographics, medications, records, allergies, vaccinations, etc., in a digitized format.
EHR has multiple benefits like increased revenue, financial incentives, better patient care, easy access to data across organizations, etc. It helps take a load off the administration department and better track appointments and prescriptions.
Additionally, digitized records reduce the risk of data theft, malice, or alteration. Instead of looking for pertinent information in old files, practitioners can pull up the required data with one click.
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