One change that has had a great impact on the quality of modern medical care is the Electronic Health Record, or EHR. What was once a massive jumble of paperwork and lab reports has now become a sleek, digital version of patient charts that makes key information easily accessible to the primary care provider.
Whether implemented due to government requirements, or from the desire to streamline office operations, EHR systems became a vital component of virtual care during the pandemic. Although they have had a definite impact on office efficiency, this article looks at how electronic health records have helped to improve the overall quality of health care.
What are Electronic Health Records (EHR)?
Although there is some overlap in the meaning of EHR and EMR (electronic medical record), there is a difference in the benefits the two systems offer. Both will contain data on the patient’s medical history, demographic information, medications, immunization records, and radiology reports, as well as lab and other test results. A medical EMR, however, deals with an individual patient’s medical records as they pertain to one particular provider or procedure. Information is generally not shared outside the health care practice.
An EHR system, on the other hand, includes interoperability features which make it capable of containing data from multiple healthcare providers or clinicians. Its primary purpose is to streamline the sharing of medical data. The EHR also contains tools that assist the primary care provider in decision-making.
What are the Pros and Cons of an EHR?
Although there can be a few drawbacks, depending on the EHR being used, the main difference between an EHR and EMR is that the EHR gives the primary care provider digital access to complete patient data and tools that assist in the care-planning process.
Pros of Using an EHR in Patient Care:
- Access to a wide range of patient data, orders, and results
- Functions that support the gathering of patient health information
- Enhanced communication with outside medical care providers
- Key support for the clinical decision-making process
- Electronic communication capabilities
- Templates to facilitate informative patient charting
- E-prescribing capabilities
- Patient portal and virtual care compatibility
- Support for billing and population health reporting purposes
Cons of Using an EHR in Patient Care:
- Some EHR systems can be clunky and difficult to use
- Costs can be high, depending on the type of EHR system used
- Some EHR systems have steep learning curves
How do EHR Systems Improve the Quality of Medical Care for Patients?
Electronic health records provide essential information and pertinent patient data in an accessible format that improves the quality of medical care for patients in a variety of ways:
Better Clinical Decisions
EHRs provide more detailed information about patients in a format that is more manageable than paper charts were. The primary care provider can view an accurate tracking of blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar, weight, and other factors, as they change over time. This helps providers develop a more informed treatment plan for the screening, prevention and management of chronic care conditions.
More Accurate Prescriptions
With e-prescribing, pharmacists no longer have to try to interpret the providers’ handwriting to safely dispense an accurate prescription.
Modern EHRs are compatible with all types of devices, from desktop and laptop computers to smartphones and tablets. The provider can access results, charts, and patient questions from a variety of devices and respond in a timely manner.
Improved Practice Workflow
A private practice that runs efficiently is able to provide a higher level of care for patients. Less time is spent searching for patient information and managing patient records, meaning more time can be spent on actual care.
EHRs can support health care providers in managing preventable diseases more efficiently. The primary care provider can access remote monitoring devices, send electronic reminders to patients, and support appointment scheduling for routine screenings and tests. These precautions not only help in the early detection of potentially fatal diseases, they can also increase patient participation in self-management and control of chronic conditions.
Virtual Care Support
The pandemic saw the increased use of virtual care as a necessity, but this form of care can also be a boon to patients with mobility and transportation issues, or those in remote locations without easy access to a primary care provider.
Patients may see multiple doctors, so it is important that all these providers have access to the same knowledge, without having to rely on the patient’s ability to accurately remember or complete in-take forms. EHRs ensure each provider is aware of the history, test results, medications, and treatment plans.
Better Patient Outcomes
When the primary care provider and medical support team have access to a complete array of patient information and communication tools, they have the ability to improve care coordination, leading to better patient outcomes.
What are the Types of Electronic Health Record Systems?
There are four kinds of EHR and EMR models available to the health care industry:
This is when a practice physically installs software onto a computer or server at its location. Initial set-up expenses, and the constant need for upgrades, can make this approach expensive.
Application Service Provider
Here the software exists on the vendor’s system, not that of the practice.
Software as a Service (SaaS)
All associated practices have access to the product’s latest software online. The software can be easily updated once on a single network, and is then available to all who access that network.
The provider is continually injecting knowledge and back-office services into the cloud-based network, which drives improved results for everyone using it.
Impact of EHRs in the Health Care Industry
According to Vantage Market Research, “The Electronic Medical Record Market is projected to witness high growth owing to technological advancement, initiatives by the government, and low maintenance with wide convenience.” HealthIT.gov reports that, as of 2021, nearly 4 in 5 office-based physicians (78 percent) adopted a certified EHR. Modern EHRs are significantly transforming the health care industry with their safe, compatible features, and insightful reports. Increased use of EHRs has led to:
- Increased patient participation through patient portals and virtual care.
- Improved coordination of care among providers.
- Better diagnostics, treatment plans and patient outcomes.
- Improved practice efficiencies.
Key Takeaway for Automated Payment Systems
EHRs are transforming the ability of the primary care provider to assess, track and analyze patient data. The choice of which EHR to use, however, can make all the difference in adaptability, adoptability, and ease of use.
Amazing Charts Helps Independent Practices Use EHR Systems to Improve Patient Care
In 2001, a practicing physician who was familiar with the challenges independent practices face on a daily basis, formed Amazing Charts to provide automated solutions to these problems. Today, Amazing Charts offers a variety of capabilities to help small, private practices function smoothly, including Electronic Health Records (EHR), Practice Management, Medical Billing Services, Population Health, Telehealth, and Remote Care. Call 866-382-5932 or visit our website to learn about our products, schedule a practice consultation, arrange a free trial, and find more information on how your private practice can improve the quality of care with an EHR system.