The Efficiency of Electronic Health Records
The US healthcare industry is shifting to a more value-based, patient-centric approach, and health organizations are expected to respond to this change using three main tactics – by adapting, innovating, and building new programs and strategies. This means embracing new technologies and systems that will enable medical providers to offer the best quality of care to their patients but without the risk of increased burden on their practice.
Some health care organizations are already transitioning to more modern systems that allow physicians, nurses, and other health workers to save time and improve care quality. One example of this is the shift to an Electronic Health Record (EHR) system.
An EHR is a digital version of a patient’s paper chart. It is a comprehensive collection of a patient’s medical data including contact information, demographics, allergies, medical history, diagnoses, treatment plans, past and current medications, immunizations, radiology images, and laboratory and test results. EHR data can be created and managed by multiple authorized health care providers and can be shared across more than one health organization with other medical providers to ensure a more holistic health experience for the patient.
Improving Efficiency in the Medical Practice through EHR
Several health care providers who have transitioned to EHR have already reported improvements in the efficiency and management of their medical practice.
In 2012, the US National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) conducted a national survey of medical practitioners who are ready for “meaningful use” (MU)—a CMS Medical and Medicaid program which is uses certified EHR technologies to improve patient care quality, safety, efficiency, and care coordination. According to the results, 79% of providers who used EHR reported increased efficiency in their medical practice. Meanwhile, 82% reported that sending prescriptions electronically (e-prescribing) saved them time and 75% said they received laboratory results faster.
EHR enhances the efficiency of health organizations and medical practitioners by:
- Providing better access to patient information – Instead of spending valuable time locating a patient’s paper chart, authorized medical staff members will save time by being able to quickly access patient data anytime and anywhere. In addition, health care providers across different organizations and states won’t have to mail or scan the patient’s paper chart if they need to share medical information with each other.This is also especially important during emergency or mass casualty situations, like natural disasters or catastrophic events, where patients are often in shock, frightened or confused, making it hard for them to communicate necessary medical information. With an EHR, health care workers will have quick access to vital information such as medical history, blood type, and allergies during these situations when even a slight delay in decision-making could mean the difference between life and death.
- Streamlining workflows and reducing paperwork – Filling out several forms, processing billing requests, and other administrative tasks consume a significant amount of time and effort. EHRs streamline routine administrative tasks as they are paperless and easier to access. This will also translate to a reduced number of paper documents that need to be filled and signed. Medical staff members will also spend less time deciphering handwritten notes and information as EHRs are written in a standardized typeface, reducing confusion and errors.
- Improving medical practice management – The use of an EHR significantly increases efficiency in the medical practice by allowing centralized chart management that is integrated with scheduling systems linked to medical progress notes and claims. Since EHR systems offer easy or automatic delivery of information, medical records are made available instantly to the necessary health care professionals, making it more efficient to locate and process patient data.
Transitioning to a more efficient and easily accessible system
Cost and security concerns are among the barriers that health care providers see in adapting an EHR system, according to the same 2012 NCHS survey. Setting up an internal EHR system and training in-house medical staff members is as an expensive move, and housing an internal EHR system also means the organization is susceptible to security threats. One way to address cost and security issues is to outsource electronic medical services to an established and HIPAA-compliant third-party provider.
Health care organizations will be able to save money by outsourcing their managed EHR hosting needs to a third-party provider as it will only cost a fraction of the price of an in-house managed EHR. Outsourcing will also ensure that your EHR system is safe from any security threats as it will be handled by experts in the field who have proper security systems and controls in place. In addition, hiring a medical outsourcing company will let your health care professionals keep their focus on providing quality patient care instead of spending their time and effort on non-core administrative tasks.
Infinit Healthcare provides secure and quality electronic medical services to help health care organizations focus on their patients and staff. As a world-class business process outsourcing company, Infinit Healthcare is always looking for the latest solutions in processes and technologies that will help medical providers increase their efficiency and cost savings.