In recent years, the use of health IT software has skyrocketed, becoming a norm for practically any health organization, regardless of size or medical specialty. One of the most common solutions used by health professionals is EHR software. There are a number of advantages and benefits of electronic health records usage. The purpose of EHR is to help automate a variety of tasks to improve the quality of healthcare provided.
EHRs enable physicians to exchange information with one another remotely and in real time, making sure every clinician dealing with an individual patient has a current and accurate file. Many EHR solutions can be configured to your health organization, in particular, adapting and growing with your facility.
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) radically changed the healthcare landscape, with the rise of EHR software as a critical tool for the delivery and continuity of care being one of its more involved outcomes. Choosing an EHR solution can be difficult and time-consuming, so in order to find the best EHR software solution for your business, consider the following benefits:
Better Quality of Care
While there are a variety of EHR benefits that come along with the use of software, perhaps none are more important than providing greater care. These solutions help organizations improve patient safety and treatment effectiveness while simultaneously increasing their operational efficiency.
Most EHRs will provide physicians with health analytics which help recognize patterns, predict diagnosis and recommend potential treatment options. This helps lead to more successful overall patient results the first time around, rather than simply relying on trial-and-error methods.
Patients are able to access medical history such as lab/imaging results, medications, diagnosis and more through the use of patient portals. They can communicate with their physicians by sharing notes, exchanging instant messages and even video calling. Both physicians and patients can use the portal to track an individual’s treatment progress.
More Accurate Patient Information
Originally introduced as an alternative to paper medical records — in an effort to make storing and accessing patient information easier — electronic records have revealed a variety of additional advantages. For one, storing records electronically eliminates the risk of any theft, misplacement, damage or tampering of sensitive data. Also worth noting is the amount of mistakes and errors due to handwriting and legibility issues that can be eliminated by doing so electronically.
As physicians are dealing with their patients, they are able to update patient information in real time, giving other healthcare professionals an up-to-date, accurate patient file at the point of care. This electronic record can follow a patient wherever they go, connecting every clinician or specialist involved throughout an individual patient’s healthcare. This continuum of treatment is very helpful, especially when a patient switches providers or sees a new physician, because it provides each professional with a detailed background of the patient’s medical history, rather than requiring them to start from scratch.
EHRs that can interface with other systems allow your practice to optimize continuity of care. If your patients need to see specialists, manage chronic conditions such as diabetes or plan on transitioning to a home health care environment for recuperation or hospice, an EHR system that offers interoperability is critical.
Like we mentioned above, EHRs allow your physicians to provide more accurate treatment and diagnosis, but they also allow you to save time. By speeding up appointments and office visits without sacrificing a patient-centered approach, health providers are able to see more patients on a daily basis, increasing their facility’s overall traffic.
Built-in templates can be used to help physicians document common patient issues or complaints rather than writing from scratch. These templates are often tailored to specific specialties or can be created for a physician’s individual needs.
E-Prescribing has become standard practice for most healthcare organizations or medical specialties. Today, many healthcare organizations throughout the country (depending on which state they are located) are required to prescribe electronically. This is due to the abuse and addiction connected to controlled substances, specifically opioids. Prescriptions can be sent to the pharmacy electronically while at the point of care. Additionally, the EHR can automatically check for any possible drug-to-drug or drug-to-allergy interactions that may occur based on a patient’s current medication and/or diagnosis.
Increase in Revenue
Nearly every business has the same goal of maximizing their revenue to the fullest. That’s also often true when it comes to healthcare organizations. While providing more accurate care is the top priority, an increase in revenue is practically a byproduct of that.
EHRs provide billing and payment tools to help manage financials and assure payment is collected. Claims can automatically be swept and scrubbed of any mistakes or coding errors which could otherwise lead to rejections. This increases your first-time acceptance rate when it comes to insurance claims, helping you get reimbursed quicker without missing out on lost or delayed claims. An EHR also allows physicians to document every single aspect of a patient visit, which allows evidence to be provided regarding individual claims.
Another aspect worth noting is the monetary government incentives that come with the implementation and use of an EHR system. Organizations can earn tens of thousands of dollars simply for implementing a certified solution and meeting meaningful use standards. It’s worth noting that the penalties for not meeting these requirements can be just as steep as the incentives. The best EHR software is designed to help your practice meet meaningful use guidelines and prepare you for upcoming mandates in future stages. The cost of implementing an EHR is typically fairly expensive; however, these government incentives help your organization afford it.
Third-party EHR software can grow with your practice and be scaled up rapidly to include larger patient bases. And cloud-based EHRs can quickly integrate patient populations in the event that your practice chooses to join an accountable care organization or group practice.
Online EHRs are always accessible. Unlike EHRs stored on a single server in your office, you can access EHRs managed by a third-party vendor from any location with an Internet connection. This allows you to improve collaboration with other health care providers, involve patients in the management of their care and respond to patients’ concerns from anywhere.
Every practice is somewhat different, and EHR systems can be configured to meet your practice’s individual needs so that you get the best possible package. An EHR package that can be tailored to fit your practice’s workflow will make the transition virtually seamless.
Protecting electronic health information is critical. One of the benefits of EHR systems is that they can make sure your practice is HIPAA-compliant and that your health records are protected. EHR companies that are compliant with IDC9/10, CPT and other EHR standards offer the highest security.
An EHR vendor who provides customer support around the clock can make your IT concerns disappear. They can also provide on-site support that will significantly reduce your IT costs. Data migration, updates and patches are handled automatically so that you don’t even have to think about IT support.
Adopting a robust EHR software platform isn’t just about maintaining compliance with meaningful use or even about ensuring the best delivery of care to your patients. It’s also about optimizing your practice’s ability to make smart business decisions based on patient data. This kind of business intelligence is critical to growing your practice and optimizing your bottom line.
Disadvantages of EHR
While we’ve discussed a good amount of electronic health records benefits, it’s important to know that not everything is always gravy with these solutions. As helpful and beneficial as EHRs are, they still come with potential privacy and security issues, as with just about any computer network. Another thing is the amount of patient involvement. While many patients have demanded more access to their medical information, it may be confusing for others. It’s important to make sure your patients understand how to use the portal properly as to not misinterpret file entries.
Other disadvantages have to do with your staff members (those who will be using the software). It can take months or even years to properly implement and get up and running with your EHR. Smaller clinics or more experienced professionals may prefer doing things on paper while others don’t, which can cause quite the dilemmas. You may feel like the implementation of an EHR will just slow you down, but more often than not, the end result is far worth it.
After reading this article, it should be clear that there are a large number of ways in which health organizations are able to benefit from the use of electronic health records. Health providers are able to increase their revenue and provide greater care without having to spend so much time with tedious tasks like documentation or billing. Like any other software implementation, there are a variety of disadvantages and advantages of EHR software, so it’s important to understand how your specific facility functions and which tools you do and don’t need.