There are numerous ways in which the adoption of electronic health records can reduce the costs of delivering high quality care. The ultimate goal of utilizing an EHR is to improve patient care and reap financial and operational benefits, but the uniqueness of a practice’s workflows can obstruct their ability to maximize the utility of any given EHR software.
Although there are challenges associated with selecting and properly implementing the appropriate EHR software for a specific practice, adopting the right solution will undoubtedly streamline processes, increase efficiency, and improve patient care overall. This article will outline the numerous benefits of adopting an EHR with a primary focus on patient care.
The Medicare Access and Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA) creates unprecedented financial opportunities for high-performance providers by associating reimbursements to value-based care.
With MACRA, Congress steered CMS toward the Quality Payment Program (QPP). The Quality Payment Program offers two new tracks to reimbursement: Merit-Based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) and Advanced Alternative Payment Models (APMs).
Many have argued that going electronic won’t guarantee that patient care will improve, but numerous studies conducted by prestigious organizations have stated otherwise. Among them is a study conducted by D.W. Bates which suggests that EHR features such as alerts and reminders do improve patient safety significantly when utilized in hospitals and ambulatory facilities.
Going electronic not only ensures the security of patient data, it streamlines communication between physicians and allows them to seamlessly transfer patient records amongst themselves. In a situation where a patient is unconscious or unable to communicate, an EHR can alert the clinician about life threatening allergies, conditions, and other critical information. EHRs provide access to information and resources that ultimately result in better approaches to treatments.
Certain EHR’s can provide more information to physicians than ever before, such as:
Patient care is directly improved where qualified EHRs can provide information in previously unavailable formats. Physicians can print and view values and graphs pertaining toweight, cholesterol levels, blood pressure, etc. and better keeptrack of changes. This directly improves communication and relationships between family physicianswith medical notes and consultation letter templates provided by EHR’s.
EHR can provide alerts to remind providers when certain prevention measures are due or out of date. Short and long term treatment goals can also be provided by EHRs. This results in better patient care which the patients themselves can track and appreciate.
Clinical decision support also significantly improves patient care, especially in emergency departments. Clinical decision supportcan be integrated into EHR systems to help providers make decisions about treatments and overall courses of action for their patients. It can present the latest information on a drug and even advise on patient allergies. EHR equipped with clinical decision support and computer physician order entries reduce clinical errors and increaseefficiency, which was previously unattainable.
D.W. Bates et al., “Effect of Computerized Physician Order Entry and a Team Intervention on Prevention of Serious Medication Errors,” Journal of the American Medical Association 280, no. 15 (1999): 1311–1316.
Adler-Milstein J, Salzberg C, Franz C, Orav EJ, Newhouse JP, Bates DW. Effect of Electronic Health Records on Health Care Costs: Longitudinal Comparative Evidence From Community Practices. Ann Intern Med. 2013;159:97-104. doi: 10.7326/0003-4819-159-2-201307160-00004
Integrated patient portal and scheduling systems reduce patient wait times and accelerate communication between physicians and patients, increasing efficiency and promoting patient satisfaction.
Features like E-prescribing that allow patients to receive their prescriptions electronically do a great deal to increase efficiency and improve patient experience, while population health features identify at risk populations and possible gaps in care to fortify patient safety.