Electronic health record (EHR), is a computerized or digital version of whatever lies in a patient’s paper chart. An on- the spot real time, patient centered records, EHR, does not just make things easy to access but are available instantly, securely to authorized users. While an EHR does contain the medical and treatment histories of patients, an EHR system is built to go beyond standard clinical data collected in a provider’s office and can be inclusive of a broader view of a patient’s care.
Today, with so much advancement, our healthcare has been radically transformed by digital technology – smart phones, tablets, and web-enabled devices have transformed our daily lives and the way we communicate. Medicine is an information-rich enterprise. A greater and more seamless flow of information within a digital health care infrastructure, created by electronic health records (EHRs), encompasses and leverages digital progress and can transform the way care is delivered and compensated. With EHRs, information is available whenever and wherever it is needed.
This anytime, anywhere, solutions, EHRs has today emerged as one giant step for the health community. With growing number of hospitals across the country and the increasing number of patients, it is really a tough task to save every bit of information about every patient. But the ability to exchange health information electronically can help us provide higher quality and safer care for patients while creating tangible enhancements for the hospitals and other organizations. With many benefits underlying EHRs, some are
Improved Patient Care: The information gathered by the primary care provider tells the emergency department clinician about the patient’s life threatening allergy, so that care can be adjusted appropriately, even if the patient is unconscious.
Increased Patient Participation: A patient can log on to his own record and see the trend of the lab results over the last year, which can help motivate him to take his medications and keep up with the lifestyle changes that have improved the numbers.
Improved diagnostic and Patients outcome: The lab results run last week are already in the record to tell the specialist what she needs to know without running duplicate tests.
Improve Care Co-ordination: The clinician’s notes from the patient’s hospital stay can help inform the discharge instructions and follow-up care and enable the patient to move from one care setting to another more smoothly.
Fundamentals of EHR
Health information and data: The system holds what‘s normally in a paper chart – problem lists, medication lists, test results
Results management: An EHR lets you receive lab results, radiology reports, and even X-ray images electronically
Order entry: No more prescription pads, all your orders are automated.
Decision support: An EHR is smart enough to warn you about drug interactions, help you make a diagnosis, and point you to vidence based guidelines when you ponder treatment options.
Electronic communications and connectivity: You can talk in cyberspace with patients, your medical assistant, referring doctors, hospitals, and insurers securely. And your system interfaces with everyone else‘s. Interoperability is the key word.
Patient support: Patients can receive educational material via the EHR and enter data themselves through online questionnaires and home monitoring devices.
Administrative processes: The system lends a hand with practice management. Patients can schedule their own appointments and staffers can check on insurance eligibility.
Reporting and population health management: How many patients did you treat for tuberculosis in 2015? An EHR will spit out the answers, thanks to a searchable database.
Barriers in Implementation
Despite the obvious benefits of a IT implementation strategy, EHR implementation isn’t always easy. Getting an entire organization on board and finding the time and resources to make the change is a major undertaking. Its one thing to have your financial information online, but your health information is another story altogether. Many people have real fears about what could happen if their medical records fell into the wrong hands. Technology must play a central role for proposed healthcare reform to contain costs, improve access, and save lives.A smart, ubiquitous electronic medical record system is certainly a big part of the package, but will we have to sacrifice our privacy to reach these lofty goals?
With many on the row like, difficulty in adding older records to an EHR system, long-term preservation and storage of records, synchronization of records, start-up costs and software maintenance costs, the major are listed below:
Usability: Some EHR don’t consider the end user in mind while designing the EHR software. Complicated interface, unclear navigations and multiple screens make it difficult for doctors, nurses, pharmacists and other staff to understand the system. They don’t have enough time to properly learn the new system. Not understanding the system can negatively impact the productivity and efficiency of system.
Inertia: Technical know-how can vary in healthcare organizations. Rural healthcare providers will face more implementation challenges as compared to urban providers. Old healthcare providers may also prefer paper records as compared to learning new system. Convincing healthcare providers and changing their mindset can be troublesome.
Privacy: Most of the EHR providers ensure complete security of health records but still some healthcare providers have privacy concerns regarding Electronic Health records (EHR). Although it’s difficult to manage paper records but they don’t face threats from cyber attacks. Security breaches in hospitals can cause substantial damages and may also result in legal issues.
Cost: Buying and implementing EHR software may seem expensive to some healthcare providers. Establishing the infrastructure, training and support cost can be a barrier for small to midsized practices. These practices ignore the long term benefits and return of investment of this valuable software.
Future Role of EHR
The role of EHRs, as experts predicts will be like a critical tool to support changes necessitated by the massive transformation of the health care system.
The role of EHRs will change. Now that we are past the “implementation phase” of EHR use, and are moving more to the “optimization phase”, it is clear what we need our tools to be. EHRs need to facilitate practice (or hospital) workflows. They need to move away from documentation time-sinks and embrace technologies that will allow documentation to be finished by the time the clinician leaves the exam room.
In the era of connecting patient’s data across different care settings, the role of EHRs as primary data repositories will diminish. EHRs will collect local data, but will need to share internal data with external sources. Good medical practice will be the result of this.