What do healthcare providers need to know about EHRs?

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As a healthcare provider, you need to learn about electronic health records (EHRs). An EHR contains a patient’s medical history in addition to things like key administrative notes, medications, vital signs, lab results, immunizations, radiology reports, and more. Basically, all the information a healthcare provider needs to know about a patient is included in the EHR, thus improving clinicians’ and other healthcare professionals’ workflows. In turn, that enables them to make better decisions and provide better patient care. For instance, EHRs can reduce medical errors via the improved accuracy and clarity of the patient records. EHRs, which are updated in real-time, can also reduce the duplication of tests and reduce delays of patient treatments.

Know the legal requirements

In the US, healthcare providers are now legally obliged to use electronic medical records, which are basically conversions of patients’ medical records to digital formats, under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Seeing as electronic health records do everything that EMRs do and much more besides, it makes sense to switch to an EHR system. Since the EMR mandate, the use of EHRs has increased worldwide because they can help healthcare providers provide advanced patient care and coordination while simultaneously making patient information more secure.

Know what your specific needs are when selecting an EHR

When selecting an EHR, there are many factors to consider. You will need to evaluate your organization’s needs to find a system that supports your specific programs and processes. Also, spend time evaluating the needs of your staff members and consider what kind of support you want from your vendor. To find the best EHR for all your different needs, search online to compare different EHRs and their features, attend industry events to meet EHR vendors in person, and ask for referrals.

Understand health information exchanges

You not only need to consider EHR features and your own organization’s requirements, you also need to learn about health information exchanges before you can choose the right EHR. Health information exchanges are used to send EHRs back and forth. The three types available are:

  • Directed, in which healthcare providers can send patients’ records directly to other providers.
  • Query-based, in which a healthcare provider can look up patients’ records in a database.
  • Consumer mediated, in which patients keep, maintain, and share their records.

EHRs must be secure

EHRs contain highly sensitive personal data about patients, so you must ensure that your system is completely secure. In the US, all EHRs are legally obliged to be stored and maintained according to the rules set out in the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). So, make sure you read the key points of the act to ensure your EHRs are completely secure.

Your organization needs to have IT professionals on hand

When you roll out an EHR system throughout your organization, you need to spend time training everyone who will have access to the system on how to use it correctly. But do not overlook how important it is to also have IT experts on hand. If EHRs are locally installed, rather than being hosted in the cloud, they can be far more complicated for IT professionals to get to grips with. So, it is a good idea to speak to an IT professional first before opting whether to go with a local or cloud-based system.

Local installations can be more complex due to the fact that they could require secure connections between different offices, they must be set up with HIPAA considerations from the offset, and much more. When your organization hires IT professionals, ensure they have been trained on the specific software your facility is using.

Understand that your patients benefit from EHR access too

Not only do your patients benefit from EHRs because they allow facilities to speed up and improve their workflows and patient care, but patients also benefit because they can now access their medical histories and other data themselves. Most EHR platforms contain online portals that patients can access to see their records and contact their doctors. So, EHRs really do benefit one and all. When you use an EHR system in your healthcare organization, you benefit your staff members, your patients, and your organization as a whole.

Suggested Reading: Evolution of healthcare data – historical facts one should know

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