Electronic Health Records (EHRs) became part of a healthcare provider’s toolkit as part of Meaningful Use legislation in 2009. But, despite the financial benefits of EHRs, many healthcare providers resisted using them. Doctors found the new EHR workflows disruptive and felt they hindered their ability to offer the same quality of care they delivered with traditional paper records.
However, over time EHRs improved and doctors became more accustomed to using them. Today, nearly 90% of office-based physicians have some type of EHR.
EHRs Changed for the Better
As expected with any new technology, EHRs have evolved—in large part due to user feedback and a decade’s worth of data analysis. In particular, three EHR advancements are consistently helping practitioners serve patients better.
Computerized Physician Orders Speed Up Diagnostics
Before EHRs, ordering lab tests, imaging, or other diagnostic procedures required providers to complete paper forms that patients physically carried to the lab. Results were then faxed or mailed back to the physician for manual entry into a patient’s file. Today, EHRs with computerized physician order entry (CPOE) systems bypass paper forms since diagnostic orders are submitted via the provider’s computer or device. When the test is complete, findings are uploaded from the lab directly into a patient’s encounter—there are no paper forms and no manual data entry required. The bottom line: faster test results for providers when diagnosing and treating patients.
Clinical Decision Support Tools Enhance Clinical Results
EHRs with clinical decision support (CDS) tools provide practitioners with up-to-date information in formats that help them make better clinical decisions. CDS tools include alerts, reminders, documentation forms, and guided clinical workflows—all designed to make delivering care more efficient.
Because they present a more comprehensive view of a patient’s condition and history, CDS tools also reduce duplicative or unnecessary testing—saving both time and money. Moreover, the biggest advantage of CDS tools is how they enable physicians to quickly process and analyze patient-specific information to reduce medical errors and improve patient outcomes. “CDS can be especially valuable in detecting “silent deterioration”—life-threatening developments that cannot be easily observed through examination—through the continuous monitoring of clinical details,” says Keren Ofri, MD, Maimonides Medical Center.
Customized Templates Increase Practitioner Efficiency
When paper charts were the norm, doctors often created their own personalized written shortcuts for frequently-performed tasks and diagnoses. Now, EHRs with customized templates are giving providers the ability to electronically record patient health information the way they choose. When a provider is able to tailor encounters to his/her specific style and speciality, the result is faster data entry and more accurate charts.
Telehealth Compatibility to Treat Patients from Anywhere
Telehealth usage was growing even before the COVID-19 pandemic. Since then, the demand for telehealth has soared, with some patients saying that they would leave their provider for another one who offers telehealth. Telehealth-friendly EHRs enable providers to conduct virtual healthcare using the same workflows as an in-person office visit. While some of the requirements around protecting data have been relaxed due to the Coronavirus, practitioners are cautioned to be vigilant about protecting patient health information during virtual visits.
Continue to Expect Innovations
The good news is that EHRs continue to evolve. By incorporating user feedback and analyzing EHR performance data to guide enhancements, developers are increasing functionality at a rapid pace. Practitioners are less likely to find EHRs as an impediment to high-quality, efficient care and more likely to consider them an essential clinical resource.
As a leader in EHR solutions, we understand why it’s critical for ambulatory practices to have the highest levels of functionality in your EHR. Schedule a short, no risk demo to see how our EHR meets all of your needs.
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