EHR – Its Importance and Functions within the Healthcare System

EHR implementation brings in the opportunity to transition from the traditional paper-based system to the digitalized one. No more writing patient information on paper forms and no more storing them in paper file folders. Now everything can be stored in the cloud rather than in file cabinets. These EHRs play a pivotal role in the healthcare system by streamlining clinical workflows to improve quality of care and reduce medical errors.

Importance of EHR in the healthcare sector

With the old-fashioned paper-based medical records, it is possible that patient health records are spread across multiple doctors’ offices. In case a patient decides to move to another doctor, they may request a copy of their records to be sent to their new doctor, in order to provide them with a complete picture of their health. It is here problems start to crop up, like the patient finding it difficult to recall their previous visit information, missing, damaged or lost records, and illegible handwriting, to name a few. EHR seeks to digitize patient health records so that they are consistent and accessible by all of your healthcare providers.

The core functions of EHR

Let us now understand the core functions of EHR and how it fits into a clinician’s workflow.

· Patient medical information: EHR provides you quick access to all the information pertinent to a patient’s health. Data like medical history, diagnoses, allergies, medications, and test results, that are crucial to facilitate improved decision making and efficient data review.

· Manage results better: In order to facilitate physicians to provide quality care, the EHR should facilitate faster access to the test results. This helps to quickly identify and prioritize test results that are labeled “abnormal”. This prevents duplicate testing and allows sharing of test results with patients and other providers.

· Manage orders: Computerized physician order entry (CPOE) is a main function of EHR that improves workflow and reduces errors. It helps physicians place medical orders electronically. Electronically generated orders can prevent lost orders, avoid errors due to bad handwriting, and also identify duplicate orders. Reports say that 60% of medication errors are attributed to bad handwriting.

· Clinical decision support: Prompts and reminders are built-into the EHR system to help the healthcare provider to make decisions and improve patient care. These alerts notify healthcare providers about potential drug reactions, wrong dosage of medications, and preventive services to enable them to make better decisions and ensure patient safety.

· Communication and connectivity: The in-built messaging and email system provides the ability to quickly communicate with other providers and patients. The

interoperable nature of the EHR facilitates quick access and sharing of data with other providers for better care coordination. It also allows sharing data with patients, which encourages them to actively participate in their own care.

· Patient assistance: Patient education and self-management support tools are the key components in managing chronic conditions. EHR provides the necessary tools to allow patients to gain access to their health records, educational materials, and also carry out home-monitoring and self-testing.

· Administrative action: Routine administrative tasks in a healthcare facility like appointment scheduling, insurance eligibility verification, and billing can be automated using EHR. This greatly improves clinical workflow efficiency to provide patient care in a timely manner.

· Statistics and reporting: This feature of EHR enables healthcare providers to create reports from a database for statistical purposes. This is useful in the case of drug recalls, disease management, and health maintenance alerts, all crucial for improving safety and quality of care.

With EHRs, the healthcare industry has witnessed a whole new transformation. Today, EHRs are no longer a mere record management system but are fast evolving into a complete clinical management system.

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