Electronic Health Records (EHRs) allow you to record and exchange patient and medical record information electronically, eliminating the need for paper medical records and all their attendant hassles. While EHRs are not perfect, when properly implemented, they have substantial advantages over business-as-usual paper records. Here are five benefits of EHRs that can help your practice.
Get Accurate, Up-to-Date, Sharable Information
EHRs provide a comprehensive, up-to-date record of a patient’s medical history, including diagnoses, medications, treatment plans, radiology images, laboratory and test results, immunization dates, and allergies. EHRs eliminate illegible handwriting and allow clinicians to fully document encounters, ensuring that records are complete, accurate, and can be reviewed by other clinicians and office staff as needed. EHRs also allow for more complete and accurate coding and billing, streamlining reimbursement.
With an EHR, you can easily share a patient’s information and medical history with authorized on-call clinicians across multi-office practices, hospitals, or with referral partners. This easy access to complete data allows for better care coordination, which in turn improves patient outcomes.
EHRs also improve patient-provider communication and patient convenience by providing on-demand access to records and test results through patient portals, engaging patients in their care. EHRs can be synchronized with appointment scheduling systems to further improve the patient experience by ensuring that clinicians have up-to-date information on each patient as they arrive, reducing repetition, miscommunication, and paperwork. EHRs that are combined with appointment scheduling software also reduce wait times and the overall time patients spend in your office, increasing patient satisfaction. Importantly, shorter office visits also reduce patients’ exposure to illnesses carried by other patients, like COVID-19.
Provide Higher-Quality, Safer Care
EHRs are more than just a digital version of a paper medical record. In addition to providing an accurate, up-to-date, sharable record of patient information and medical history, they also include evidence-based tools to help you make patient care decisions. Research has found that EHRs with these built-in Clinical Decision Support tools help physicians provide guidelines-based care. Time-strapped clinicians working with paper records can sometimes miss opportunities to align care with the latest clinical guidelines appropriate to each patient, but EHRs ensure that proper guidelines are flagged for your review every time. Similarly, EHR reminders can help you keep track of the preventive services and follow-up needs for each patient, improving patient health, and potentially increasing your quality scores.
EHRs can also reduce medical errors, making care safer for patients while reducing your liability. For example, EHRs automatically flag prescriptions that may interact with a patient’s existing medicines, prescription drug dosages that may be inaccurate, or medications that are counter-indicated for a patient’s medical history. EHRs also ensure that all documented patient allergies are flagged during prescribing. CPOE and E-prescribing through EHRs also reduce the chance that patients will accidentally receive the wrong order or prescription at the pharmacy due to handwriting legibility.
By preventing medical errors and flagging potential problems, EHRs can also improve risk mitigation and avoid liability actions. For example, EHRs can demonstrate adherence to the best evidence-based practices, provide practices with automated monitoring for clinical quality improvement, and provide a complete record that includes evidence of informed consent for liability defense.
Enhance Patient Privacy and Security
Unlike paper medical records, which can be left out or misplaced, leaving them subject to browsing by unauthorized individuals, one of the benefits of EHRs is that they grant access only to authorized individuals and use encryption to protect sensitive medical information. EHRs also provide audit trails, allowing you to see who accessed a patient’s EHR, when, and whether that access was authorized. Additionally, offsite EHR backup ensures that you can access patient information even in the event of natural disasters or other events that compromise access to physical records.
Improve Efficiency and Productivity
Implementing an EHR is an upfront investment, but the benefits of EHRs yield dividends in improved efficiency and productivity over the long-term. EHRs have been shown to have a positive return on investment in primary care practices, academic medical centers, and solo or small practices. EHRs save time by centralizing chart management, automating receipt of test results, and reducing patient paperwork, allowing your practice to see more patients.
You can also link your medical practice management systems directly to your EHR. This yields benefits like connecting appointments to progress notes, automated coding of procedures, and seamless claims management. With EHR reporting tools, your practice can also easily monitor progress on quality measures. Finally, the data-sharing capabilities of EHRs allow your practice to efficiently and effectively communicate with patients, clinicians, labs, and health plans, saving you time and while improving your patients’ care.
In addition to improving efficiency and productivity, EHRs can reduce your non-clinical labor costs. Filing and recalling paper medical records for office visits, follow-ups, or incorporating laboratory and test results is time-consuming and can result in errors and misplaced paperwork. With an EHR, patient records can be recalled electronically within seconds, and laboratory and other test results can be posted to a patient’s record automatically. EHRs also cut down on the time staff spend filling out forms, tracking and managing tests and prescriptions, and copying records to fulfill requests from insurance companies, hospitals, and other practices. Finally, EHRs reduce or eliminate your practice’s transcription costs from dictated notes.
If your practice receives capitated payments or shared savings bonuses, EHRs can support your success. EHRs improve population health through better disease management and patient education, increase quality scores while reducing quality reporting burdens, and reduce medical errors. Each of these saves your practice money, improves patient health, maximizing your revenue, and increases your chances of accruing shared savings.
How TempDev Can Help
TempDev offers a wide array of services to help you implement and customize your NextGen EHR system, including EHR reporting solutions for patient tracking, clinical audits, open orders, provider approval queue audits, practice dashboards, and task audits. TempDev consultants can also train your staff to use your NextGen EHR, and TempDev can help you clean your data and improve practice workflows.
Call us at 888.TEMP.DEV, or contact us here to get started improving the benefits of EHRs.