Electronic Health Records (EHR) is a system that contains patient-centric information, saved electronically. This may include an individual’s health status, demographic data, or clinical information (like lab reports, radiology, or pharmacy data).
An EHR comprises of data and information, collected and managed by healthcare providers (one or many) and is exchanged amongst them. It is an integrated, point-of-care system that is designed to manage both inpatient and outpatient functionality within a HDO.
Benefits of an EHR System:
a) Patient Participation
When patients and providers share access to the health information, they collaborate in making informed care decisions. Such a move is helpful in management of chronic conditions like respiratory disease, stress, asthma, diabetes, arthritis etc.
- EHRs keep the patients informed about their treatment. With a thorough report of diagnosis and medical treatment being given, patients can evaluate their care level. Also, EHRs allow providers to share self-care instructions to the patients like medical adherence, reminders for follow-up, change prescription according to health improvements etc.
- EHRs are a gateway for better communication between patients and providers. Patients can reach out to the providers through eVisits for acute care, appointment schedule, symptom sharing for an advice etc. Patients participate in updating EHRs through Personal Health Records (PHR).
PHR is a component of EHR. It’s an electronic record of patient’s data, which is accessed through an application (like Patient Portal). The information in an EHR and PHR is same but the difference is that PHR is managed by the patient. There are two types of PHRs:
Standalone PHR, wherein the patients fill-in their health information and is generally saved on their device or cloud. In some cases, the data in such PHRs is added external sources (providers and labs).
Tethered PHR, wherein the health information of patient is linked to an HDO’s EHR and patients access this information through a secure portal.
Technologies like EHR and PHR ascertain that patients participate in their own health care system. Meanwhile, when designing EHR, it is important to keep patient’s requirement in mind and be specific, wherever possible.
2. Improved Diagnostics and Treatment
An EHR is a longitudinal record of data. With a history of health information, providers can deliver better care. Electronic health records aid doctors to diagnose disease (by studying symptoms and medical history), reduce medical errors, and augment patient’s satisfaction in treatment.
- Studying history of patient’s problems (allergies or reaction) and treatment enable providers to avoid medication that can have adverse consequences.
- Information stored in EHRs enable physicians to understand a patient’s history in scenarios when the patient is not available with the details (unconsciousness).
Improved diagnostics and history maintenance helps to avoid risks in treatment. Patients with chronic disease when record their vitals in EHR help physicians to suggest better care (in terms of diet, exercise, follow-up, therapy, or medication).
c) Improved Care with Convenience
- EHRs make it possible for patients and providers to coordinate, thereby ensuring that care is offered, remotely.
- EHRs with patient history enable providers to prescribe medicine in emergency scenarios (offering acute care).
- Secure patient portals provide flexibility to communicate and share information online, which may include lab reports, prescription, diagnostic and treatment history etc
d) Enhance Efficiency and Reduce Cost
- EHRs promote paperless system of care. A number of administrative tasks, such as forms filling, billing etc. requires paper for proceedings. EHRs replace this paperwork with electronic records, which is easy to access and reduce the cost and misplacement risk associated with paperwork.
- EHRs also allow system administrators to perform tasks like account and ID management, organizing clinical documentation, security and privacy settings for patient’s data etc. with efficiency.
EHRs: Data Privacy and Security
Electronic Health Record systems in the U.S should be HIPPA compliant, as enforced by Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights (OCR). To prevent PHI from any unauthorized use, HIPAA has Privacy rules and Security rules maintained.
The Privacy Rules are responsible for safeguarding medical records and PHI through national standards. This is applicable to the covered entities, which includes healthcare clearinghouses, health plans, and providers involved in electronic transactions. The Security Rules are meant for protecting ePHI that is being created, recorded, and used by any covered entity. In addition, the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH Act) also offer regulations to maintain security of EHRs.
Alongside HIPPA and HITECH for securing PHI, it is important that the platforms (like patient portals) are built in with security features like data encryption, audit trail system, role based access control etc.
EHR Integration to Healthcare Applications:
EHR systems offer a level playing field to both patients and providers. Not only do they offer a faster access to the patient records, but they minimizing medical errors and cost associated with paperwork. Meanwhile, healthcare software applications integrated with EHR needs to be secure patients’ data and should follow the set regulations. To extend your understanding in this concern, setup free consultation with our healthcare software development expert.