For the Record: The Necessity of EHRs

Although we live in a digital world, according to Salesforce research, more than half of healthcare consumers don’t know how to access their comprehensive health record. In fact, many patients still keep paper copies of their health records in a filing cabinet, drawer, or even a shoebox. The security of those documents is constantly in jeopardy, and they can be  easily misplaced or destroyed. What’s more, patients also depend on their providers to keep track of their health information for them. 

To provide the best healthcare possible, providers can implement an electronic health record (EHR) system to give doctors, nurses, administrative assistants, and other healthcare professionals easy, immediate, and accurate access to relevant health records. Healthcare professionals can collaborate better among departments, transfer records more easily, and access updated guidelines and recent medical research. EHRs can also sync with systems like the FDA Adverse Event Reporting System, which monitors the safety of approved drugs and therapeutic biologic products, and new recommendations can be implemented immediately for safer practice.

Why are EHRs so important?

With the ever-growing demand for healthcare professionals, speed and efficiency are key. But rushing through visits can result in potentially life-threatening errors. EHRs can mitigate many of these concerns.

Taking a personal history from the patient is time-consuming and not always reliable. With an EHR, that information is already provided and verified by healthcare professionals. Doctors and nurses have immediate access to past medical history, relevant allergies, and other concerns. With adverse event reporting, doctors get the latest information on medications they are prescribing in real time and can share that information with their colleagues. 

EHRs are also convenient for patients. Many systems have scheduling capabilities that allow patients to make and cancel appointments on their own. If a patient is referred to a specialist or moves to a different city, records are seamlessly transferred electronically so that nothing is lost in transit. Having their health information so easily accessible can make patients feel more comfortable and secure, ensuring long-term loyalty — and helping providers attract new patients. Patients don’t have to worry about their shoebox full of personal medical records being lost or destroyed, and they can be confident knowing that their provider has the most up-to-date information. 

Not only is it safer and more efficient to store medical records electronically, it’s a matter of financial savvy. As part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, the U.S. Congress established incentives for the transition from paper records to electronic and specified penalties for practices that resisted. 

What to consider when implementing a new EHR system.

When a practice adopts a new EHR system, there are important factors to consider. 

While more expensive systems may boast more capabilities and conveniences, practices should be cautious to stay within their means. In the long run, an effectively implemented system will save providers money. But those savings need to justify the initial and monthly or annual costs. Researching reviews and ratings will get providers off to a good start, but the best advice is to observe what local hospitals and practices use. 

Another important factor is the capabilities a new system will require. Downloading purchased software to current computers or tablets is the simplest and often most efficient solution, which commonly comes with cloud storage. This means that offices don’t need to purchase and maintain terabytes of space to store patient information; it’s all securely in the cloud. This also makes it much more accessible for different physicians, nurses, administrators, consulting doctors, new doctors, and the patients themselves.

Establishing a budget and considering capabilities will narrow down the search. From there, providers should decide what kind of services the practice will most benefit from. (Many of the downloadable software options provide extra add-ons and bonuses.)

If it’s important for patients to have easy access to their own data, then the addition of a patient portal or app is crucial. Someone with hypertension or diabetes, for example, will benefit from seeing their test results from recent visits and compare them over a matter of months or even years as they work toward a healthier lifestyle.

Some solutions offer the option to make the patient portal or interoffice system more personalized and engaging. This gives providers control over not only what information is stored, but how it’s asked, where it is on the screen, as well as the theme, font, and color choices. This can all have a significant effect on how readily staff and patients adopt it. Once users are thoroughly integrated into the system, it is key to ensure that the best information is provided.

Syncing with adverse event reporting will ensure that all healthcare workers, caretakers, doctors, nurses, and administrators have the most up-to-date information on all of the medications, procedures, and equipment they are trained to use. As new advances are made, progressive drugs are released, and safer procedures are cleared, an automatically updated EHR system can mean a world of difference to providers and patients alike.

The science of medicine is based on probability, and the more information that’s gleaned, the more informed the decision will be. Using artificial intelligence to provide better healthcare has been a growing trend since its conception and will continue to be as technology advances. Using an EHR system can help advance big data, which leads to smarter solutions to medical problems. In ICU centers that have Telehealth initiatives, including an EHR has resulted in a 26% lower mortality rate and a 20% earlier release date for patients. Using the data collected for all patients, medical advances will be made not only for Telehealth initiatives, but for overall disease prevention and cures too.

Set the records straight.

Although this software has been on the market for several decades, many providers are still not taking full advantage of the benefits.

EHRs are an essential technology for all providers. With doctors, hospitals, insurance companies, and patients working together, the process of providing and receiving the best healthcare possible is just a click away. See for yourself how new technologies are revolutionizing how patients and providers keep track of the data that matters most with Salesforce Health Cloud.


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