As telehealth and telemedicine evolve and become the new normal, Electronic Health Records (EHRs) will start allowing organizations to lower costs and improve efficiency at the same time. With EHRs, providers can save thousands of dollars by reducing everything from paper to personnel. Plus, office visits can be reduced, making life easier for both patients and doctors as patients can view, discuss, and update EHRs from the comfort of their own homes.
An Electronic Health Record generally includes a patient’s contact information, other relevant healthcare professionals, insurance information, family history, allergies, vaccinations, conditions and health history, medications, hospitalization records, and surgery/procedure history. They must be compliant with CMS and HIPAA and must meet certain technical capabilities.
You may hear the term “EMR,” or “Electronic Medical Record.” EMRs and EHRs are essentially the same thing, but government entities use the term EHR. Some of the major EHR systems that hospitals and large provider groups use are Epic Systems Corporation, Cerner Corporation, Allscripts, Meditech, AthenaHealth, and eClinicalWorks.
We are increasingly seeing disappointment in how much time doctors are actually spending with patients. New technologies can backfire in this way because they are allowing doctors to pay more attention to the records and information on the computer screen than the patient sitting in front of them.
However, as these technologies improve, doctors will be able to spend less time discussing medical history and more time discussing current conditions. Doctors may even start allowing patients to submit medical information electronically before even getting to the doctor’s office, saving time and money for all parties. If the doctor already knows about your conditions and concerns before you even walk through the door, the practice can be fully prepared to provide high-quality care.
The financial industry went digital years ago. We don’t just mean credit cards and ATMs – think about how today, you can visit a small business run out of a tent and pay by credit card. How are you able to do that? Most of the time, small companies have tablets with “Square,” a credit card processing device. Cash is becoming obsolete as you can pay by card almost everywhere!
Plus, services like Apple Pay are storing financial information in the cloud. Eventually, the same thing will have to happen to healthcare. The industry has to catch up!
Having healthcare data in the cloud also makes it easier for providers to share information. Those with coordinated care models can easily transfer data among physicians, pharmacists, dentists, etc. We may have a future without physical scanning and mailing. Instead, there may be shared data networks among provider groups.
While modern technologies are not perfect by any means, they can help avoid human error. For starters, not everyone has perfect handwriting. If a doctor quickly scribbles a note and then asks someone else to add it to a record, the data may be transferred incorrectly. If the doctor can enter it into an EHR from the start, everyone can have access to it and not have to worry about errors. Plus, if everyone has access (via the cloud) to medical data, it can help doctors avoid performing unnecessary tests or spending too much time asking about medical history – the information is all there.