Electronic Health Records have become a key part of the healthcare ecosystem and are intended to help providers deliver better care more efficiently, and more than 85% of healthcare providers have started using EHRs. The problem is they aren’t always having the intended effect – at least not yet.
Despite 70% of doctors acknowledging EHRs have improved in recent years, more than half still think they need to be completely overhauled and that current EHRs negatively impact their professional satisfaction.
One of the biggest challenges physicians face is the amount of time they spend managing EHRs. On average, PCPs, for instance, spend more than half of their time on data entry and other EHR-related tasks. That, in turn, limits the amount of time they have to spend treating patients and can contribute to burnout, an ongoing challenge in healthcare. Still, physicians see value in EHRs, and 63% believe EHRs contribute to patient care improvements, which should make improving them a priority.
Some of the areas where changes could drive increased benefits and maximize the value of connected health solutions include:
- Interoperability – Siloed systems and inadequate interoperability between them can hinder physicians’ ability to access complete patient records. It can also make it difficult for patients to access their own health information, hindering efforts to increase patient awareness of and engagement in their own healthcare needs. Last year, HHS and CMS both released new interoperability rules to help guide EHR developers and providers in creating better EHR tools.
- Automation – By integrating automated data entry and workflow management technologies with EHR systems, providers can reduce manual data management, while also ensuring updated information is available in real-time. Automation can also reduce data entry errors, and adding artificial intelligence can help drive faster and better decision-making and communication. For instance, remote patient monitoring devices that deliver data directly to EHRs can trigger alerts when patient readings exceed defined thresholds.
- User interface – Cluttered or confusing user interfaces can make it difficult for providers to find or interpret information. In fact, UI design is the most important short-term EHR improvement that would increase their effectiveness.
As EHR design and implementation continue to improve, they will move closer to delivering on their promise to improve healthcare efficiency and outcomes. At the same time, they can help relieve some of the burden on physicians and staff by changing the way healthcare information can be accessed and used.
New technologies, like voice assistants leverage natural language processing, can make it easier for physicians to interact with EHRs. From using voice to search medical histories to transcribing doctors’ notes, physicians will be able to reduce what it takes to find and update patient information. Similarly, voice-enabled process automation can make it easier for clinicians and staff to complete previously manual tasks, like placing prescriptions, sharing patient information with colleagues, and sending reminders to patients.
Just as connected health can enable patients to receive care remotely, it can also allow physicians to deliver care from anywhere. Fully integrated EHRs can give physicians access to complete patient data wherever they are physically located at the time of service. With this added flexibility, physicians can enjoy a higher degree of work-life balance, can more efficiently collaborate with colleagues for optimal care models, and providers may be able to offer increased access to preferred providers or specialists thanks for more flexible scheduling.
With patient records stored digitally, patients and medical professionals can access key information from anywhere, allowing them to better understand patient histories and conditions in order to optimize treatment. For instance, emergency responders may be able to review known allergies before giving patients medication. Similarly, if patients require medical assistance while away from home, providers can access their health records for greater insight. EHR portability can help transform healthcare into a geography-agnostic process.
By integrating EHRs into connected health platforms, all data from virtual visits and remote patient monitoring devices can be automatically appended to patient records. This helps ensure all collaborative providers have complete and up-to-date information when reviewing patient conditions and evaluating treatment success.
Fully integrated EHRs and the advances in voice technology and artificial intelligence can help drive clinical usefulness. Rather than being merely data repositories, EHRs can become viable tools to drive better health outcomes by providing data-driven intelligence on patient conditions and optimal treatments. In addition, predictive analytics can help drive disease diagnosis and prevention, and can support broader population health initiatives.
Currently, 60% of physicians do not believe EHRs have positively impacted their relationships with patients. As for patients, themselves, more than half say they find it difficult to coordinate care across different healthcare providers. Connected health tools, including integrated EHRs, can help increase coordination between providers by fostering information exchange and easier care coordination. In addition, nearly a third have trouble finding providers who take time to understand their complete histories. Improved EHR systems that pull all patient data can make it easier for providers – and patients – to access complete medical histories. As a result, physicians can be better informed, driving better relationships with patients.
Modern healthcare is driven by data, which is at the heart of EHRs. It’s also being generated in increasingly greater volumes with the continued adoption and use of connected health solutions. As EHR design continues to evolve, and as integration with other connected health tools is improved, there is hope that they will drive the process improvements and patient outcomes that have been promised.
To learn more about how connected health solutions can improve efficiency and drive positive outcomes, connect with us here.