Digital technology has changed our lives beyond recognition. It helps us when we need relevant information fast.We now do things differently because of our smart phones and tablets and computers. The difference is how we communicate ideas and how we search for relevant information. If, for instance, you are looking for a place to have dinner in a new city, your smartphone can give you a much more accurate description of the types of restaurants that serve the type of cuisine you like than a human being could provide.
While we are aware of how much digital technology has improved our home and office lives, we may be less aware of how it has transformed entire industries. One industry in particular that has been radically affected has been the the field of healthcare. Medicine, which thrives on accurate information, now uses digital technology, to create a seamless stream of information about a patient’s medical history. Today, electronic health records (EHR) have transformed how health care is delivered. Now information about a patient’s medical is available wherever it is needed by any medical professional who needs it. Gone are the days when patient’s paper files had to be delivered by mail or when medical records had to be constantly corrected because of outdated information.
Besides its use in hospitals and clinics, EHR is also important for healthcare companies that provide ancillary support like insurance coding, medical billing services, lab services, and so on.
Compliance with Health Regulations
However, since there are many rules and regulations when it comes to health laws, it can be challenging to keep track of compliance issues, especially if you are just starting a medical practice. Consequently, it is often necessary to use a healthcare compliance company that offers new medical practices meaningful use consulting services. For instance, if upon graduation from medical school, you opened up a specialized clinic to treat knee osteoarthritis pain, you would need some guidance before going live with your electronic health records. You would need to know if you are meeting State and Federal regulatory compliance and if the risk level of your health care practice falls in line with new HIPAA regulations. Failure to meet healthcare standards specific to your practice can result in high-cost penalties and fees.
Improved Healthcare with EHR
Electronic Health Records improve the quality of health care, as well as making health care much more convenient for both patients and providers. EHR improves diagnostics and outcomes and improves care coordination. It also improves medical practice efficiency and provides cost savings.
A health care practitioner benefits by getting quick access to all a patients records to provide more efficient health care. It also becomes easier to interface with labs and to make decisions based on accurate and up-to-date medical information. Meanwhile, those responsible for coding and billing can work with legible documents that have complete details. This may not seem like much of a breakthrough in healthcare, but coding and billing departments have always been burdened by the task of deciphering doctor’s illegible handwriting and hastily compiled documentation!
How Patients Benefits from EHR
Besides getting better treatment based on their physicians working with accurate records, patients also benefit in many ways. They know when to see a physician again for followup treatment because they are given timely reminders by the clinic. They are relieved of the tedium of filling out the same forms every time they visit a medical office. And they enjoy the convenience of their electronic prescribing delivered to their pharmacy by their healthcare provider’s clinic before they get there.
EMR is not EHR
There is often confusion between an Electronic Medical Record (EMR) and an Electronic Health Record (EHR), and those unfamiliar with the digital advances in medical technology use the terms interchangeably. When a patient visits a physician or other provider at a clinic, standard medical information is gathered. This is their EMR. However, all the records gathered about a patient by different providers constitute their EHR. This is a far more comprehensive medical history of the patient. This body of information can be created and managed and consulted by authorized providers across many health care organizations.
A New Chapter in Quality Health Care
According to Healthit.gov, the reason EHR improves the quality and convenience of health care is because “access to complete patient health information is essential for safe and effective care. EHRs place accurate and complete information about patients’ health and medical history at providers’ fingertips. With EHRs, providers can give the best possible care, at the point of care. This can lead to a better patient experience and, most importantly, better patient outcomes.