All You Need to Know About Electronic Health Records

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All You Need to Know About Electronic Health Records

The healthcare industry is dependent on seamless communication and easy access to information. All of the technical components of a healthcare institution must run smoothly. Given the constantly-increasing and complex data sets, effective integration of telemedicine solutions could make a physician’s practice sink or swim. But installing these technologies is no easy task, especially if we are talking about an integral component of any healthcare organization – electronic health records.

What is EHR?

An electronic health record is a software designed to assist a clinical practice or healthcare provider. It stores patient information, and clinicians can use it to quickly access and assess the patient’s medical history, improving the overall flow of an organization and allowing for quick and easy management of one’s health.

In fact, according to NCBI, most physicians reported that the use of EHR systems enhanced patient care (78%), helped them access a patient’s chart remotely (81%), and alerted them to a potential medication error (65%).

This clinic management system has one of the most critical roles within the healthcare industry – sharing information between multiple providers. This information sharing is essential for fast and efficient care delivery, especially in urgent situations. That is why you have to set up your organization’s electronic health records in accordance with standards that dictate how to secure protected health information and securely exchange it between organizations.

Types of Electronic Health Record Systems

Knowing what telehealth solution to implement means understanding your business needs. Said implementation is dependent on multiple factors such as the size of your practice, the scope of your project, and where you wish to store your information. Pending on whether you keep your information on-premises or you want to transfer them, we can differentiate between two types of electronic health record systems: physician-hosted and remotely-hosted.

Physician-Hosted System

As the name suggests, this system is owned and stored locally by the clinician or the medical practice. This means those in charge are responsible for buying, implementing, and maintaining the hardware and software necessary for data storing and management. Maintaining IT infrastructure is costly and time-consuming, given the rapid increase in healthcare data. Smaller practices should probably refrain from implementing locally hosted EHR systems.

Remotely-Hosted System

Remotely-hosted systems rely on a third party, an entity unaffiliated with the medical organization. That entity’s job is to store, manage, and keep the data secured. This approach has several benefits: first, it allows the clinician to focus on healthcare delivery. Second, it removes some of the IT impediments to the seamless flow of an organization. Third, it eliminates the cost of implementing and managing IT infrastructure locally. But there are also multiple ways a practice can rely on a remotely-hosted electronic health record system. Thus we can divide remotely-hosted systems into three groups:

  • Subsidized: usually, a hospital enters into a legal contract with a physician and stores and finances EHR implementation. Such agreements often bring legal issues or concerns related to patient information.
  • Dedicated: vendors store the information on their servers. A physician doesn’t have much access or control over how the data is stored.
  • Cloud: arguably the most popular solution, cloud migration is a valuable tool for many healthcare practitioners. The data is stored online, and a clinician can access the electronic health record systems through the vendor’s website.

What is an EMR?

Electronic medical records are a clinician’s digital version of the patient chart. They show medical history, keep track of treatment and progression, and are full of individual notes left by physicians who treated the patient.

Record keeping proved to be a severe challenge within healthcare organizations. Often, hospitals or practices had to dedicate an entire room to simply store patient data. Organizations adopted EMR software to remove this issue and many others with hand-written notes.

Manual input of data has several downsides. First, there is a constant issue of making a mistake. Second, inputting information this way is less effective than using software. Third, because clinicians could spend a lot of time on such an administrative task, they lose time focusing on what truly matters: delivering quality care to their patients.

EMR systems thus solve a lot of problems. They allow the physician to better track a patient’s data, point to required check-ups or vaccinations, and increase the overall flow of an organization.

It is easy to think of EHR as EMR 2.0. They give a fuller patient picture, encompassing many of the same features. Additionally, they collect information from multiple clinics and physicians, allowing them to share and complement each other regarding a patient’s health.

Given the federal mandates requiring public and private health providers to digitize their record-keeping, we can safely say that the main focus of EHR integration is interoperability, or the ability to communicate information from one practice to another.

EHR Features

It would be too reductionist to view this technology merely as a patient’s medical history. The multi-faceted purposes of said technology have numerous administrative benefits for an organization, just as it benefits patients themselves. We will look at some of the main features of an electronic health records software and how it improves multiple areas of an organization’s operations.

For doctors:

  • Easy access to patient’s information
  • Electronic patient recognition: through voice or signature
  • Medical alerts
  • Prescription alerts
  • Data analytics

For patients:

One of the main tools an electronic health record enables is the patient portals. They allow patients to check their visit records, schedule appointments, check on their medical condition status, and even communicate remotely with their medical provider. Effectively, patient portals increase patient engagement, which is linked with better outcomes related to overall patient well-being. More active and better-informed patients take an active role in their healthcare resulting in proactive and health-bettering behavior.

EHR Risks

Electronic health records can introduce certain liabilities related to cyber security and data management for all that they bring to the table. One of the main issues is the very nature of data that any institution handles. Because the data is so sensitive, clinicians must ensure that their provider adheres to rules and regulations that dictate storing and keeping health information. This is crucial given that EHR systems in healthcare present an easy target for cyberware. In fact, in 2021, healthcare data breaches reached an all-time high, affecting almost forty-five million people.

Another significant issue is the number of medical alerts and notifications. Clinicians have complained that the amount of sensory overload due to constant pop-ups, notifications, and alerts, could lead to them quitting their job. In other words, it is vital to introduce and implement electronic health records to reduce fatigue properly.

Much like the case is with many technologies, a system is only as good as the inputted data. Another thing to keep in mind is the correct input of information. We already know that incorrect input can lead to some strange behavior in technology. In the case of EHR data, wrong inputs can drastically slow down the organization’s processes and lead to stagnation. The same can happen if you don’t organize that information: if there is too much data to analyze without a quick method of getting to the important stuff – you’re doing something wrong.