importance of electronic health records

Importance of Electronic Health Records

Your healthcare perspective will change when you learn about the importance of electronic health records. Nowadays, many healthcare systems use EHRs to take patients’ experiences to a new level. So, with the meaningful use of electronic health records, medical facilities and patients are equally safe and secure with easy data access.


What are electronic health records?

Before stating the importance of electronic health records, let’s remind you what an EHR exactly is and its initial purpose. An electronic health record is the digital form of a patient’s paperwork. EHRs are patient-centered, real-time records that offer instant and secured data to the allowed users. Additionally, EHRs are not only containers for treatment and medical patients’ histories. Also, they include a more comprehensive view of a patient’s medical profile.

The key aim behind Electronic Health Records is to preserve data in digital form. EHRs are patient records that are constantly updated. Additionally, they can be accessed in real-time by authorized parties. As to what they contain, EHRs include medical history in detail, medications, radiology images, allergies, lab results, etc. As a result, they help doctors and nurses make the right patient care decisions.

Benefits of electronic health records in healthcare

Speaking of the importance of electronic health records, it’s evident to shed light on the benefits of EHR in healthcare. EHRs help providers better manage care for patients and provide better health care, As they:

  • Provide accurate, up-to-date, and complete information about the patient’s health.
  • Enable quick access to patient records for more efficient and coordinated care.
  • Improve providers’ productivity and work-life balance.
  • Enable safer, more reliable prescribing.
  • Help providers diagnose patients, reduce medical errors, and provide safer care.
  • Improve patient and healthcare provider communication and interaction.
  • Provide privacy and security of patient data.
  • Reduce costs through decreased paperwork, improved safety, reduced duplication of testing, and improved health.

The primary benefit of this structured data is that it allows data to be shared with other healthcare providers across many healthcare organizations. The EHR data structures enable you to share information with pharmacies, labs, medical imaging facilities, specialists, etc.


Difference between EHR and EMR

Now that you’ve discovered the importance of electronic health records, you might be wondering what the differences are between the usage of EMR and EHR. Don’t worry; we will simplify things for you! But first, we start with a quick definition of EMR.

Generally, What is an EMR? An electronic medical record is an electronic version of a medical chart. With EMR, a patient’s history doesn’t travel easily outside the practice. Furthermore, EMRs are usually used by providers for treatment and diagnosis.

As to the differences in usage trends between EHR and EMRs, EHRs are more advanced. First, EHRs will be the healthcare system’s future due to the holistic coordination within the healthcare ecosystem. The truth is the term EHR is referenced now more systematically. Not to mention that EHR systems exceed essential functions like documentation and clinical notes. It includes the practice workflows in the broader perspective, integrating other parties of the healthcare system.

This helps improve coordination in the world of care. It also increases patient participation in the world of care. Also, it enhances the quality of the patient’s care. All this while augmenting the cost savings and effectiveness of a practice. Care to know more about why will you give EHR your attention?

How has the EMR changed the workflow in healthcare systems

Electronic Medical Records (EMRs) have significantly impacted the workflow in healthcare systems by changing how patient information is documented and accessed. With the implementation of EMRs, patient information is now stored electronically. It can be accessed from any computer or mobile device with access to the system, which has increased the efficiency of healthcare systems.

EMRs have allowed physicians and other healthcare professionals to quickly access patient information and make informed decisions about their care. They can access duplicate records, ensuring everyone is up-to-date on the patient’s history, medications, and test results, particularly when multiple healthcare providers are treating a patient.

Clinical decision support systems, which use algorithms and rules to analyze patient data and provide recommendations to healthcare providers, are another way that EMRs have changed the workflow in healthcare systems. This has improved the accuracy of diagnoses and treatment plans, ensuring patients receive the most appropriate care.

EMRs have also made it easier to track patient outcomes and monitor the quality of care. Healthcare systems can collect and analyze data on patient outcomes and identify areas where improvements can be made, leading to more effective treatment plans, better patient outcomes, and more efficient use of resources.

Why are EHRs necessary for improvements in healthcare?

For several reasons, electronic health records (EHRs) are essential for improving healthcare. One of the primary reasons is that EHRs provide a complete and accurate patient history that can be shared among healthcare providers, leading to better-coordinated care. EHRs also help healthcare providers make more informed decisions by providing real-time access to patient data such as medical history, medication lists, lab results, and imaging studies.

With EHRs, healthcare providers can quickly and accurately access a patient’s medical history, previous treatments, and medication lists, reducing the risk of prescribing the wrong medication or treatment. Additionally, EHRs can flag potential drug interactions or allergies to medicines, improving patient safety.

EHRs can facilitate population health management by allowing healthcare providers to track and monitor patient data over time. This data can be used to identify patients at risk for certain conditions and provide proactive care, potentially reducing the risk of hospitalizations or more severe health outcomes.

Mandatory use of EMR/EHR in healthcare

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 incentivized healthcare providers to adopt and implement EMRs to improve patient care and safety. As a result, many healthcare facilities have switched to EMRs, with some states even mandating their use.

Opponents of mandatory EMR use argue that it can be costly for smaller healthcare facilities and take time away from patient care. Implementing an EMR system requires a significant investment of time and resources and can be a major change in workflow for healthcare providers. Additionally, there are concerns about the privacy and security of patient information in electronic form.

Despite these concerns, the trend toward mandatory EMR use in healthcare will likely continue. As technology advances and becomes more affordable, it is becoming easier for healthcare facilities of all sizes to implement EMRs. The benefits of EMRs, such as improved patient safety and efficiency, are hard to ignore, and many healthcare providers already see the benefits of using these systems.

How much money did healthcare invest in EHRs?

Healthcare has invested significant money in implementing EHRs (electronic health records) over the past decade. According to a report by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC), US hospitals alone have spent more than $30 billion on EHR adoption since the passage of the HITECH (Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health) Act in 2009.

The HITECH Act provided financial incentives for healthcare providers to adopt EHRs, contributing to the significant increase in EHR adoption rates over the past decade. In addition to the financial incentives, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) established the EHR Incentive Programs, which provided incentives for eligible providers who demonstrated “meaningful use” of certified EHR technology.

While the initial investment in EHRs was significant, it is essential to note that the long-term benefits of EHR adoption, including improved patient outcomes, reduced healthcare costs, and enhanced care coordination, are expected to outweigh the initial costs.

Which EMR/EHR system is mainly implemented in healthcare

There are many different electronic medical record (EMR) systems in healthcare, and the most implemented system can vary depending on the region, type of healthcare organization, and other factors. However, according to a 2021 report from KLAS Research, the top three most implemented EMR systems in the United States are:

Epic Systems: Epic is a widely used EMR system in large hospitals and health systems across the United States. Epic is known for its interoperability features, allowing healthcare organizations to share patient data securely.

Cerner Corporation: Cerner is another widely used EMR system in mid-size and large hospitals. Cerner’s system is known for its customizable workflows and real-time data analysis capabilities.

Meditech: Meditech is a long-standing EMR system that has been in use for over 50 years. It is trendy among smaller hospitals and healthcare organizations. Meditech’s system is known for its user-friendly interface and easy implementation.

Ambula EMR: Ambula is one of the more modern implementations of EMR systems in healthcare. It is designed for outpatient settings, offering appointment scheduling, patient registration, electronic prescribing, and charting features. Many ambulatory care clinics, surgery centers, and physician practices across the United States use it.

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Improved Public Health

One of the key contributions of EHRs to public health is their ability to enhance disease surveillance. By tracking the occurrence of reportable diseases and conditions, EHRs can provide real-time data on the spread of diseases and identify outbreaks early on. This timely information allows public health officials to take prompt action to contain outbreaks and prevent the spread of diseases. For instance, EHR data can be used to monitor the prevalence of influenza and identify areas where vaccination rates are low, enabling targeted interventions to improve immunization coverage.

EHRs also facilitate outbreak investigations by providing a centralized repository of patient information. This includes data on patient demographics, medical history, clinical presentation, laboratory results, and treatment outcomes. By analyzing this data, public health officials can identify the source of an outbreak, determine the mode of transmission, and develop effective control measures. For example, EHR data can be used to trace the spread of a foodborne illness by identifying the common food item consumed by affected individuals.

Better care?

On the same note, not only do EHRs offer better care, they automate a lot of tasks. Besides, EHRs ensure doctors can exchange data remotely with updated accuracy. Furthermore, they are customizable according to each case and flexible by nature. The main advantages of electronic health record software include a higher quality of care. While EHR provides easy and quick access to records, it increases the practice’s efficiency. They offer a more successful medical approach because they help recognize patterns, predict the diagnosis, and offer possible treatments. Both patients and physicians benefit from this tracking analytical device. Here’s how EHR enhances the care quality experience.

  • A study published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine in 2023 found that EHRs can reduce medication errors by up to 80%. The study looked at data from over 100 hospitals and found that hospitals with EHRs had significantly lower rates of medication errors than hospitals without EHRs.
  • Another study, published in Health Affairs in 2023, found that EHRs can improve patient care coordination. The study looked at data from over 10,000 patients and found that patients whose care was coordinated through an EHR had better outcomes than patients who did not.
  • A third study, published in The Lancet in 2023, found that EHRs can improve patient safety. The study looked at data from over 1 million patients and found that patients who received care in hospitals with EHRs had lower rates of adverse events than those without EHRs.

Here’s a deeper look into the perspectives of healthcare professionals on the importance of EHRs:

Dr. Lloyd Minor of Stanford Medicine emphasizes the transformative role of EHRs in healthcare. He mentions, “Electronic health records are foundational to the digital revolution in healthcare, playing a critical role in achieving better health outcomes and more cost-effective care.” This indicates that EHRs are not just about digitizing patient records but also about improving the efficiency and effectiveness of healthcare delivery.

Improved Clinical Decision Support

Clinical decision support systems leverage a range of data sources, including electronic health records (EHRs), clinical guidelines, and real-time patient data, to provide clinicians with timely and relevant recommendations at the point of care.

One of the primary benefits of improved CDS is its ability to reduce medication errors. By providing real-time alerts and warnings about potential drug interactions, contraindications, and dosing errors, CDS systems can help prevent adverse drug events (ADEs), which are a significant cause of patient harm. A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that CDS systems can reduce medication errors by up to 50%.

In addition to reducing medication errors, CDS systems can improve the quality and appropriateness of care by providing clinicians with evidence-based treatment, diagnosis, and preventive care recommendations. These recommendations are based on the latest clinical guidelines and research, ensuring patients receive the most up-to-date and effective care. A study published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine found that CDS systems can increase adherence to clinical guidelines by up to 20%.

Future of EMR in Healthcare

The future of electronic medical records (EMRs) in healthcare is exciting and promising. As technology advances, EMRs will become more sophisticated, streamlined, and integrated with other healthcare systems. One of the most significant benefits of EMRs is that they allow easy access to patient records across different healthcare settings. This interoperability will become even more seamless in the future, allowing for real-time data exchange and improved care coordination.

The future of EMRs in healthcare will also focus on improving the user experience for healthcare providers. EMRs will become more intuitive and user-friendly, reducing the documentation burden and allowing providers to spend more time on patient care. Furthermore, EMRs will continue to evolve to include more patient-generated data, such as wearable devices, to provide a complete picture of a patient’s health.

Finally, if you have any questions or need to know more about EHR systems, the Ambula team is always ready to help! Contact us at: (818) 308-4108! And now, paper charting vs. electronic charting: which one is better?

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EMRs are essential for breaking down silos and creating a more connected healthcare system. They allow us to share information seamlessly between pharmacies, hospitals, and other providers, resulting in better care for patients.

Karen Lynch, CVS Health