The Benefits of using Electronic Health Records

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As the world shifts from paper to digital communication, the days of overflowing file folders full of printed medical records are disappearing in favor of paperless alternatives such as electronic health record (EHRs.) The functionality of EHRs creates a more seamless flow of information, providing means for care to be delivered in a much safer and more efficient manner. The automation in EHRs can help prevent errors in patient care because of the ability to automatically check existing data the moment a medication is prescribed, a lab test comes back, or a diagnosis is given.

The possible improvements utilizing EHRs stretch from patient care to diagnostics. EHRs can even empower patients to take a more active role in managing their own well-being. They can improve practice efficiency, saving medical personnel time in a number of ways. EHRs have the potential to touch on and change just about every facet of medical data and how it relates to the speed and quality of care a patient can receive.

Patient care

Electronic health records place accurate and complete information related to a patient’s health and medical history at providers’ fingertips, giving them what they need in order to give their patient the best possible care. Additionally, the speed at which this information can be accessed goes up exponentially when everything is available digitally, both during inpatient visits and remotely. Records become streamlined, legible, and complete and can easily be shared with labs, registries, and other providers leading to better coordinated and more efficient care.

Beyond how EHRs assist the nurses, doctors, and technicians, they benefit patients in a number of ways. There are less forms to fill out, prescriptions can be processed electronically, and medical records can be accessed online, in real time by the patient themselves. Each of these benefits saves time for the patient and presents an easier way for them to connect with their own medical information.

Diagnostics and patient outcomes

The simple ease of sharing information digitally using an EHR can have many benefits for managing patient information. The most obvious is no more paper. Historically, sharing medical information between providers required pulling hard copy records and faxing them from one provider to another. EHRs put a patient’s medical information at the fingertips of an entire network of doctors, presenting a reliable and complete health record that is accessible regardless of the setting the patient arrives for medical care.

Storing a complete record of a patient’s medical history can also improve a provider’s ability to diagnose a disease, reduce or even prevent medical errors, and improve overall patient outcomes. In a 2012 survey, National perceptions of EHR adoption: Barriers, impacts, and federal policies conducted at the National Conference on Health Statistics, 94 percent of providers shared that EHRs make records readily available at point of care. 88 percent reported EHRs produce clinical benefits to their practice and 75 percent claimed their EHR allows them to deliver better patient care.

Another interesting connection between EHRs and patient outcomes was discovered in a review of studies. The Impact of Electronic Health Records on Time Efficient of Physicians and Nurses: A Systematic Review noted that with the implementation of an EHR, nurses had more time available to interact directly with patients. This added time, along with the completeness of the digital health records for each patient, positively affected patient outcomes.

Patient participation and collaboration

EHRs and other IT health care developments tend to encourage patients to take a more active role in their own health care. The complete presentation of their own medical history combined with the ease of patient-to-provider collaboration through online communication enables patients to become more proactive. Patients take more control over their own health with online access to manage appointments and email their providers.

You can also help empower patients through EHR benefits like sending information after an appointment, digitally reminding patients to set up follow-up care, and sharing resources to help educate patients facing a specific diagnosis or condition. The ease with which you can share information and tools with patients, coupled with the access patients have through EHRs place them in a better position to partner with you in their long-term health care.

Practice efficiencies

In the same survey, National perceptions of EHR adoption: Barriers, impacts, and federal policies conducted at the National Conference on Health Statistics, as above, results illustrated how EHRs create a more efficient environment for medical personnel.

  • 82 percent said sending prescriptions electronically saves time
  • 75 percent receive lab results faster
  • 70 percent reported enhancements to data confidentiality

Most importantly, 79 percent of those surveyed stated that with EHRs in place in their practice, it functions more efficiently. This is because of what EHRs offer in the way of medical practice management — integrated scheduling systems which can link appointments to progress notes, coding, and claims along with centralized chart management can improve communication between other clinicians, labs, and health plans. There is also less chance of a duplicate test being issued to a lab because everything is tracked within the EHR, including lab orders and receipt of test results. This reduces the chance for redundancies and allows the provider to review lab results quicker.

Moving toward digital medical data through the use of EHRs has obvious benefits, but it’s important to keep your patients in mind when adding a new technology to your practice. There is usually an initial period of growing pains as patients adjust to using things like online medical portals to access their health records and to communicate directly with both nurses and doctors. Taking into consideration the savviness of your patients when it comes to technology along with the support you’ll be able to offer during the transition to something new is imperative to the successful incorporation of systems such as electronic health records.

EHRs are just one example of how the nursing field is changing and, as a nurse, it’s important to stay up-to-date. Elevate your education to meet the industry’s complex demands in patient care and nursing responsibility with an online Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Rutgers University. On-the-job learning is redefined with this flexible, online program focused on the foundations of nursing leadership and the nuances of delivering comprehensive care. As a leader in higher education, an RN-BS completion program from Rutgers helps establish your expertise in the medical field. Prepare for the future with a program that can bolster job security, increase career mobility, and diversify your medical range — consider earning your RN-BS from Rutgers University.

Recommended Readings:

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