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EHR: An important key to patient safety

EHR: An important key to patient safety


The usage of electronic health record (EHR) systems has been one of the most significant breakthroughs in healthcare technology over the last few decades. 

EHR: An important key to patient safety

Over 95% of hospitals have an EHR for Health Information Technology — and with good cause. EHRs offer a host of advantages, including better record administration, centralized record storage, faster record updates, and simpler record transfers, to name a few.

However, there is another advantage to having an EHR system in your clinic. Electronic health records (EHRs) are beneficial to healthcare organizations. Doctors identified the following benefits of EHR systems in a national physician survey:

• EHRs make patient health records available at the moment of service, according to 94% of clinicians.
• EHRs generate clinical benefits for the practice, according to 88% of respondents.
• 75% believe that having an EHR assists them to provide better patient care.

Clinics gain from EHRs in terms of managing patient data, but how do those benefits relate to your EHR and patient safety? Let’s have a look at some examples.

I. Effective communication
When electronic health record (EHR) systems first became popular in the 1970s and 1980s, physicians immediately discovered the benefits of digitised health records over paper records, such as the fact that:

• Digital health records can be accessed from any device.
• It’s easier to update electronic information than updating the details manually on paper.
• Electronic records are easier to transmit between clinics because they don’t require mailing or faxing.
• By providing a digital way to evaluate information regardless of geographic location, electronic records increase communication efficiency across the board.

Any healthcare provider can swiftly acquire a thorough view of patient’s situation with digitised health records by:

• Viewing a patient’s previous medical appointments and pulling up his/her record 
• During the intake process, patients are assessed
• Receiving real-time data that assists clinicians in providing better evidence-based care

If a patient is to be referred to a specialist for a more serious problem, the primary care practitioner can easily send the required documents to the specialist securely and safely.

II. Enable decision support

Transitioning to an EHR opens up new opportunities for patient safety enhancements, most notably Clinical Decision Support Tools (CDSS).

These EHR safety tools take data from electronic records and use it to assist a clinician’s treatment plan. While CDSS alerts can be used for a variety of purposes in healthcare, they are most commonly used to assist providers with decision-making at the point of care. The following are some of the things that clinical decision support systems can aid with:

• Setting alarms based on patient histories to check for known risk factors
• Biomarker screening reminders that are automated (e.g. cholesterol or blood pressure)
• Make a list of specific questions to ask during appointments and set reminders for them
• Providing information about the patient’s medical compliance
• Making healthy lifestyle adjustments to improve a patient’s quality of life.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have certified CDSS solutions as an effective strategy to enhance patient outcomes. However, because the CDSS is only as good as the patient data it has access to, it must be developed on a solid and up-to-date EHR platform.

III. Errors in Diagnosis Detection

EHRs can assist prevent medical errors and misdiagnoses, which is related to the above examples.

Physicians, despite the education and training, are still human and susceptible to human mistakes. Even the best doctors sometimes make mistakes when diagnosing complex problems. To avoid mistakes, EHR patient safety tools have progressed to the point that misdiagnoses can be caught and corrected before serious harm is done.

When used at scale, EHRs can be effective risk management tools, providing the following advantages:

• Patient data gathering and analysis could be improved
• In one place, collect patient histories, lab findings, and related reports
• Create built-in protections against drugs that have contraindications
• Provide thorough record histories for doctors to use in making judgments

These technologies help to ensure patient safety by giving data and information that is critical to each physician’s diagnosis. The more prepared each clinician is, the higher the patient’s chances of a favourable outcome.

IV. Management of population health

In terms of EHR and patient safety in general, EHRs play a critical role in large-scale population health through meaningful use and electronic Clinical Quality Metrics (eCQMs).

In a nutshell, meaningful use refers to the goals that healthcare professionals must meet to participate in EHR Incentive Programs and demonstrate their commitment to healthcare quality. Clinical EHR systems are used to track and provide data for these programmes.

These indicators pertain to the overall quality of health-care services provided and how well a clinic offers safe, equitable, and timely care, whilst ensuring :

• Engagement of patients and their families
• Patient safety is paramount
• Coordination of care
• Public health and population
• Optimal utilization of healthcare resources

Clinics must report eCQMs and other EHR patient portal requirements on a regular basis if they wish to participate in certain government programmes (such as the Medicare and Medicaid Promoting Interoperability Programs).

The benefits to public health come from the insights researchers gain from the data. National researchers (such as those at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services) can get insight into population’s health trends, care efficacy, and patient satisfaction by using EHR-based eCQM indicators reported by clinics across the country.

Healthcare professionals can use this information to better understand where they’re falling short and build new evidence-based methods to enhance patient outcomes.

V. Reduce the cost of healthcare administration
Hospitals with more resources are more likely to be able to give care to individuals in need. As a result, the administrative budget of a hospital can have a significant impact on patient safety risks and service quality. EHRs provide a solution by increasing employee productivity and lowering healthcare administration expenditures.

While EHR implementations are costly upfront, they result in demonstrable cost reductions over time. According to research published in The American Journal of Managed Care, hospitals with advanced EHRs could reduce treatment costs per patient by 9.6% on average compared to hospitals without sophisticated EHRs.

When you consider the following cost-cutting benefits of EHR deployment for clinics, it’s easy to see why :

• Time spent seeking records and data is cut in half with digital search tools.
• Redundancies in results or records are eliminated with centralized health
information centres.
• Patient portal support and education tools provide answers to patients and may eliminate the need for in-person consultations.

Conclusion
How does your EHR help patients stay safe? By providing clinicians with the information technology tools they require to improve patient care quality and safety.

Of course, electronic health records (EHRs) aren’t a new strategy in healthcare, but their use is rapidly increasing. The debate these days isn’t whether clinics should use an EHR, but rather how they should use it.

Many practices struggle with this since healthcare platforms are difficult to incorporate without the assistance of experts.

Outsourcing your EHR project to an experienced integration partner is the best approach to ensure that it runs smoothly and produces the ROI that your practice requires.

Ready to see how EHR protects patient privacy and increases patient safety at your practise? To get started with your EHR transformation, contact Drucare now


EHR: An important key to patient safety

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