Before EHRs, access to medical charts required labor work. Every time a patient visited the office or hospital, their file was pulled out physically from a storage space, transported, delivered, stamped, and sorted all in one visit. As a result of this back and forth, there was a greater chance of human error, and charts would sometimes have missing information or be out of order. It was unusual for five out of 15 charts for a clinic day to be unavailable at any given time, this resulted in a waste of time, space, and frequent defects to care. Paper records are more vulnerable to break-in, losing it by the staff member, or by a natural disaster such as fire or flood.
On the other hand, the providers can easily maintain an electronic health record which is an electric version of a patients’ medical history. It may comprise all of the key administrative clinical data applicable to that person’s care under a specific provider, including, progress notes, vital signs, demographics, past medical history, immunizations, laboratory data, and radiology reports.
Directly or indirectly through various interfaces, including evidence-based decision support, and quality management, the other care-related activities are supported by an EHR. When adopting new technology, vendors and healthcare providers from the early stages of EHR planning need to identify and eliminate waste in those processes that involve the use of EHRs to ensure positive outcomes before making large investments.
Some advantages of top-rated EHR:
- Improved data accessibility
- Computerized physician order entry
- Charge capture
- Preventative health
- Easy sign off for PAs and NPs
- E-messaging between providers
An EHR has numerous templates, and reports, and many physicians are still struggling to use the EHR. Some clinicians need to allocate time for their staff to get trained. They are spending more time filling the information in the EHR and spending less time with their patients.
Many physicians still assume that having a top-rated EHR is an asset. The vendors make big promises about the system’s functionality, yet for the next couple of years, very few physicians understand how to maneuver it. They get eye-washed by its ratings and popularity and don’t realize the repercussions such as:
- Delayed upgrades
- Sometimes users are on different platforms
- Unable to attest Meaningful Use
- Sometimes PQRS registry is not available
- Signing contract for next 3-5 years
- The cost for fixes and hardware keeps mounting
You are the best judge of your practice. Before selecting an EHR for your practice, you may investigate the features, review customer feedback, examine the track record of vendors, and most importantly, consider the financial stability of the company.
While there is no perfect EHR, you could get closer to identifying the right system to meet your practice’s needs. Don’t rely just on demos from vendor salespeople. Make a wish list of essential features for your practice, and receive inputs from the office manager and key staff members.
Even though the advantages of an EHR are considerable, sometimes the disadvantages outweigh it. To avoid these issues, the practices and hospitals must perform a thorough evaluation of the EHR system before purchasing and implementing it. Taking some time to evaluate workflows and identify and eliminate waste will help improve implementation, and communication, decrease non-value added work and increase adaption.
Although physicians may experience some initial costs, electronic medical records can be stored very securely in the cloud allowing the use of fewer resources and giving the ability to access data anytime and anywhere. EHR is the next step in the continued progress of healthcare that can strengthen the relationship between patients and clinicians. The data and its promptness and accessibility of it will empower providers to make effective decisions and proffer better care. The EHR can assist in improving patient care by reducing the incidence of medical errors and improving the accuracy and clarity of medical records.
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