EHR is an acronym for electronic health record. Prior to EHR, the transfer of an individual’s medical information from one organization to another was commonly a time consuming process, which could in turn affect the care an individual may have received, especially when one’s diagnoses and initiation of treatment were time sensitive. EHR is the digital version of a patient’s paper medical chart. They allow pertinent medical information to be easily accessed as all medical information is systematically digitalized and subsequently electronically stored.
EHRs make sharing patient information between various health care settings more convenient, quicker, and provide more assurances regarding the confidentiality and security of the medical information. Since the introduction of EHRs, medical professionals have provided more accurate and effective diagnoses, been able to provide safer care, and have significantly reduced medical errors. Employing an EHR consultant can help health care organizations in a number of ways. EHR consultants can help a health care organization optimize the use of current systems, transition to a new EHR system (including data conversion and training staff on how to properly use the new EHR system), provide detailed data analyses, ensure compliance with health care data privacy laws, and much more.
What to Know About Navigating EHR Systems
There are many different EHR systems currently used in the health care field. Each EHR system, regardless of type, should perform and promote (at the very least) all eight of the following core functions, as set forth by the Institute of Medicine panel (IOM):
- Result management: enabling all relevant providers, regardless of setting/ location, the ability to quickly access new and previous test results
- Health information and data: instantaneous access to the primary medical information of a patient (i.e. allergies, laboratory test results, medications, diagnoses…etc.)
- Order management: enabling a medical professional the ability to use a computer based system to store orders for prescriptions, tests, and other services
- Electronic communication and connectivity: secure, protected, efficient, and readily accessible communication between health care providers and patients
- Decision support: taking advantage of electronic organizational benefits, such as computerized reminders, alerts, and prompts to uphold best clinical practice standards, ensure regular monitoring, as well as preventative practices (i.e. recognize potential drug interactions, provide accurate treatment options, identify proper diagnoses…etc.)
- Patient support: providing patients with tools, such as a secure online portal, to have to access their personal health records and a resource for pertinent health related educational information
- Administrative processes: electronic scheduling tools and computerized administrative resources to improve the health care organization’s efficiency in providing administrative support services to its patients
- Reporting: electronic data storage of EHRs must adhere to uniform data standards to allow health care organizations to engage in time sensitive communication with federal, state, and private reporting requirements, should that be necessary
In efforts to develop, set, and enforce widespread standards in regards to EHR, the above core functions should be closely adhered to by a health care organization when utilizing an EHR system. The primary purpose of EHRs is to promote greater quality, safety, and efficiency in regards to health care delivery in America.
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