The concept of electronic health records was introduced in the 1960s. they were designed to relieve medical staff from the burden of filling tedious paperwork. Though, revolutionary, it only began becoming commonplace after the year 2009 when President Obama announced the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act. Which, provided monetary incentives to healthcare providers for adopting certified electronic health record systems. Hence, by 2015, 95% of hospitals adopted EHR systems. By now having effective EHR is an indispensable tool for practices.

What is EHR?

An electronic health record (also known as EHR) is a system in which there is a longitudinal collection of medical information like patient charts and healthcare providers. Data collected is about and for individuals. However, only authorized users to have access to a single or multiple individual’s medical records. Moreover, it improves the quality of patient care delivered, safety and efficiency by providing knowledge and support to decisions made by physicians.

EHR software does more than just keep track of medical records, it enables technology to become a maximize efficiency when dealing with data for individuals and populations. EHR software performs drug-diet checks, warns about possible drug interaction, providing local reminders during an appointment, clinical guidelines for individuals. All of this makes individuals more efficient. For populations, data EHR provides management tools so that physicians can manage panels of patients, produce reports for populations, track immunization, and support the creation of legal documentation.

What is the difference between EMR and EHR Software?

Though they are often used as synonyms there is a difference between them. Electronic Medical Record is just a digitized version of an individual’s medical history whereas Electronic Health Records take it one step forward. In addition to keeping a patient’s medical record, they also provide physicians analytical tools, support decision management, and finally, can also assist with appointment scheduling, medical coding, and billing.

Types of EHR Systems

There are three types of systems

  1. Physician Hosted System: in this type of system the physicians often purchases both the hardware and software needed to operate the server. Moreover, they are responsible for updating and maintain the security of the software. This is an option large practices or hospitals prefer as they have the capital on hand needed to be able to develop their on-site servers.
  2.  Remotely Hosted system: it when the storage, maintenance, backup, and security of the medical data is given to a third party. This is an option smaller practices prefer as they may not have the IT expertise or administrative staff needed to manage their HER.
  3. Remote systems: These may be either subsidized, dedicated, or cloud. Subsidized systems are ones in which a hospital provides a subsidy for the cost of EHR implementation. Dedicated systems are ones in which physicians store medical data on an EHR vendor’s information. Finally, a cloud system is one in which the data is stored not on a physical server but the internet.

Types of EHR Software?

Certain types of software requires organizations to build and maintain in-house servers. However, many of them are cloud-based. Users obtain access to robust servers, storage, applications, and services through an internet connection. There are two types of EHR Software, the first one is inpatient and outpatient. In outpatient systems, there is a single self-contained application in which all the functions are built on top of one common database.

 Inpatient systems on the other hand are created by pooling and sharing data between many component systems. However, with both of these systems, it is possible to view all of the information available in the interface through a common interface. However, it is often problematic to find information because unlike search engines, search capabilities are not included in EHR Software and it is a project that Google is currently working on.

Advantages of EHR Software

Provide quality care

It provides supports physicians’ decisions, they can be programmed to provide alerts on patient allergies, drug-drug interactions, incorrect dosages, and other potential hazards. Hence, it reduces errors and prescription mistakes. Clinics can keep track of patients in real-time, and automate simple screening procedures and help create custom tracking list which enhances care provided by physicians. Moreover, Google is currently developing a system that could potentially help physicians save time by using electronic search systems. By typing a specific keyword a physician could access data and identify patients that need to be informed about matters such as drug recalls.

Bridges the communication gap between healthcare professionals

Electronic Health Records help medical teams and physicians communicate with each other. Patient information can be updated in real-time. It also allows medical healthcare specialists to communicate remotely to exchange information to coordinate the treatment of a patient and to ensure that relevant details of a patient’s treatment can be communicated to every physician that is involved in a patient’s healthcare. It also makes it easy for patients to switch providers or consult with other physicians because they can obtain all of their medical information instead, of having to build it from scratch.

Facilitating Clinical Research

Data in EHR systems have been used before to aid observational studies. The latest systems hold a large variety of patient data. From images, laboratory tests, and a detailed medical history of patients. This can help researchers characterize diseases with much more accuracy and detail than with the patient data available in observational data sets. It can even be used to link medical data to other data sets such as lifestyle surveys, disease registries, etc. that are collected in other sectors such as

Though, the application of EHR Software in epidemiological research is vast as it is in the history of disease, drug utilization, safety, and health services research. The data in electronic health records can also be utilized to find about the real-world use of drugs.  Currently, data extracted from Electronic Health Records is being used to assess guideline adherence and performance improvement initiatives. It is also being used to assess trial feasibility and facilitating patient recruitment for medical research.

Disseminate the latest developments in healthcare faster

The exchange of data is one of the biggest challenges in the healthcare industry. This is because traditional systems are not interoperable. EHR Software solves this problem because it has allowed health organizations to easily share patient’s medical history. Moreover, though medical research is extensive however the application of new methods to treat patients is often slow. Consistent use of new treatment techniques can take up to 20 years. EHR software can change this by making it easy to circulate knowledge of effective novel treatments through decision support mechanisms. In this way, it can be used to bridge the gap in healthcare delivery between different groups. For example, by providing state-of-the-art electronic health record keeping systems to clinics that provide information which they may not normally have access to. This could be advantageous both in rural areas and clinics which cater to disadvantaged populations that have a limited amount of resources.

More efficient than paper-based medical records

The medical staff spends a significant proportion of their day filling and processing paperwork. Having a paper-based medical record not only takes up space and incurs a significant cost in terms of stationary but it also has to be updated constantly. With EHR Software this can easily be solved. Information is automatically organized and can be accessed instantaneously. It prevents the misplacement of sensitive information and prescriptions. For example, paper-based prescriptions can be illegible or misplaced. EHR Software also prevents theft by third parties hence, keeping patient records tamperproof.  

Saves times and money

It saves costs by preventing doctors from ordering an unnecessary number of diagnostic tests since lab results and images are all available in the medical health record and can be accessed by physicians easily. Furthermore, the patient’s medical history, allergies, current medication list can prevent medical errors which may lead to complications, hospitalization, and other expensive care. Moreover, it would also decrease administrative expenses by 

Accurate Patient Information

Though it was originally introduced to provide an option to improve access and store patient information more accurately EHR Software also prevents theft, misplacement, damage, and alteration of patient data mistakes because legibility and handwriting are also eliminated. The software also allows physicians to document every single aspect of a patient’s visit which makes it easy to provide evidence for individual claims. Then, the EHR Software ensures that coding errors in claims are automatically corrected. Hence, making it easier to bill for their services more accurately and thereby decreasing the number of claim denials.

Does more than keep medical records

One of the biggest advantages of this EHR systems is that it allows practices to make e-prescriptions. As a result, abuse of controlled substances can be controlled. The software warns of potential dose interactions. The prescriptions can be sent directly to pharmacies where dosages can be adjusted and communicated to the physician automatically. Moreover, certain EHR Software also has integrated artificial intelligence to help doctors diagnose and interpret patient’s medical records. Currently, software is being developed to have voice recognition capabilities so that physicians can make inquires via speech.

Disadvantages of EHR Software

One of the causes for physician fatigue

Though EHR Software has made digitized records, making medical records more accessible and easily available it has caused doctors a considerable amount of stress. Many physicians often complain that they spend more on administrative tasks and studies show that physicians experience fatigue within 22 minutes of using EHR Software as measured by pupillometry. One of the reasons why healthcare practitioners are fatigued by electronic health records is because of its interface. Not only does it often look like the 90’s website but it is also difficult to browse. They require multiple clicks and tabs before physicians can even find relevant information. Though there is considerable research being carried out to change this.

One of the solutions that have been proposed is to develop speech to text so that physicians can dictate instead of type. Though, some are concerned that this may not be an effective solution as it would not account for every individual’s speech style. For example, some doctors may produce text full jargon while some may dictate simplistically. Researchers are trying to develop intelligent software that can fill the gaps and try to form a more or less standardized text which can be easily used. 

Security concerns

Since patient information is now digitized both physicians and patients are concerned about the safety of their data as any breach can be used to commit identity theft. Various EHR Systems are outdated and as a result very vulnerable to attacks by third-parties. Though, phishing scams are also fairly common as it is an easy method to obtain patient’s financial information. However, by providing extensive training to clinical staff and implementing HIPAA standards, and encrypting medical information most cybersecurity attacks can be addressed. Most EHR software vendors also have their security systems which they update constantly. Many have even started to integrate AI and Blockchain into their processes.

The use of EHR software has numerous advantages such as providing quality care, saves time and money by providing alerts to potential health hazards, and keeping patient records in one place. Secondly, it bridges the gap between healthcare professionals by making it easy to disseminate relevant information between relevant parties. Third, it facilitates clinical research by providing researchers with accurate and extensive information available. Next, it makes it easy to inform practitioners and clinics about the latest medical research potentially helping bridge the gap in healthcare quality in disadvantaged groups. Finally, EHR Software does more than keep an accurate record of patient information which is more effective than paper-based systems. It also helps healthcare practitioners in providing an accurate diagnosis. Hence, adopting EHR Software is a necessity for all healthcare practitioners. Managing patient records does not have to be tiring. Ditch the pen and paper for Outsquaremd’s safe and intuitive EHR Software. We are a fully integrated telehealth solution provider, we hospitals and practices of all sizes with a 360 solution for all of their virtual health care needs. Contact us at (516) 6304 025

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