The Institute of Medicine has identified eight core functions of Electronic Health Records (EHRs). These core EHR functions include the following:
Health information and data
Electronic communication and connectivity
Reporting and population health management.
Here is what you need to know about these eight core functions of EHRs.
Core Functions of EHRs: Health Information and Data
EHRs replace paper medical records with electronic clinical and demographic information on patients. With an EHR, you get rapid access to patient data like medical history, diagnoses, allergies, medications, and test results. Because EHRs can hold more data than paper records, medical histories can be more complete, improving care. But EHR usability must be of utmost concern with a well-designed user interface to avoid distracting clinicians with extraneous information. Customize your EHR to meet your practice’s business and workflow needs.
Core Functions of EHRs: Results Management
Filing lab results in the appropriate paper medical record can be time-consuming, cause errors, or lead to misplaced results. A core function of EHRs is to simplify results management, making testing more efficient, and improving patient care. EHRs, like NextGen Healthcare Information Systems, give you faster access to lab results, allowing your practice to recognize and address abnormal results faster. An EHR will also reduce redundant testing by automatically displaying previous lab results. An EHR also lets you share test results with patients and other providers and import them into your EHR. This automated results sharing improves patient engagement and care coordination.
Core Functions of EHRs: Order Entry/Management
Computerized physician order entry (CPOE) is another core function of EHRs. Within an EHR system, you can order lab tests, prescription drugs, radiology, and even consults. Studies have shown that computerized provider order entry can improve workflow and reduce errors. For example, electronic orders can end lost orders and confusion from illegible handwriting. An EHR can also flag suspected duplicate orders, and it can generate related orders automatically. This reduces the time to fill orders, thereby increasing patient satisfaction and care quality. Electronic orders can also save money by eliminating the costs of producing and filing paper forms for orders and results.
Filing electronic prescription drug orders through your EHR can also improve your practice. EHRs with e-prescribing reduce medication errors. Your EHR will flag medication doses or frequencies outside of the recommended range. An EHR will also check the proposed medication against the patient’s record. This automated check flags potential allergies or interactions with existing medications. You EHR can even check prescriptions against insurance formularies to ensure coverage. And, an EHR can store pharmacy information, helping you easily get prescriptions to each patient’s preferred pharmacy.
Core Functions of EHRs: Clinical Decision Support
EHRs provide two major types of decision support: Reminders and alerts and computer-assisted diagnosis and treatment. Reminders and alerts include the following:
Flags for potentially inappropriate medication doses or frequencies
Alerts about potential drug interactions
Reminders to clinicians to provide appropriate preventive care screenings
These clinical quality measure tools can reduce errors and improve prevention in your practice. For example, your EHR will remind clinicians to provide vaccines, cancer screenings, and cardiovascular screenings at the appropriate intervals.
Computer-assisted diagnosis, treatment, and disease management tools are more sophisticated. Diagnostic tools can help guide clinicians through the diagnosis of complex conditions. Using these tools, your practice can reduce the time it takes for a patient to receive a diagnosis and reduce the frequency of misdiagnosis. Decision support tools can also help busy clinicians provide guidelines-based care. For example, your EHR can find and display clinical guidelines based on diagnosis entry. Also, EHR decision support tools can flag treatment plans and orders that may not adhere to the latest clinical guidelines. By adhering to guidelines, your practice can improve care quality and reduce claims denials.
Clinical decision support can help your practice improve care quality, reduce errors, and get to diagnosis and treatment faster. These tools can increase your quality scores, patient satisfaction, and practice efficiency.
Core Functions of EHRs: Electronic Communication and Connectivity
EHRs promise faster, easier access to patient medical records and sharable data. EHRs allow you to share data with other providers, improving care coordination. You can also share data with patients to increase their engagement in their care. EHRs can facilitate patient education and encourage self-management.
EHRs also have built-in electronic messaging, patient portal, and email connectivity. This allows for quick communication both among providers and between providers and patients. Providers can easily share lab results, request referrals, direct messaging, and email questions. This rapid communication among providers improves care coordination and reduces duplicative testing. EHRs also enhance patient-provider communication, making patients more engaged in their care. Through an EHR Patient Portal, your patients can message their provider, see lab results, and schedule appointments.
Core Functions of EHRs: Patient Support
Patient education and support are essential for managing chronic conditions. Your EHR can help you provide appropriate and timely patient education. EHRs can host a library of educational materials for easy access. They can also generate follow-up instructions and treatment plans, so patients know their next steps. EHR Patient Portals can also help patients access electronic education materials and treatment plans. Finally, EHR systems can also integrate with telehealth and telemonitoring programs. These programs can help your practice track patient progress between office visits.
Core Functions of EHRs: Administrative Processes
An EHR can help your practice improve scheduling, billing, and claims management. For example, Patient Portals let patients make appointments electronically, without calling your office. You can also customize your EHR to allow electronic patient registration, reducing patient wait times. Electronic registration also reduces your data entry time by requiring patients to enter their own data.
An EHR can also help your practice streamline billing and claims management practices. For example, your EHR can validate a patient’s insurance coverage for tests and medications, reducing coverage denials. EHRs can also help you request prior approval and authorizations, reducing wait times. Finally, EHR clinical decision support tools can improve your practice’s adherence to guidelines-based care. This can reduce claims denials and improve quality scores.
Core Functions of EHRs: Reporting and Population Health Management
If your practice accepts multiple insurance types, you likely face many reporting requirements. For example, under Medicare, many practices participate in the Quality Payment Program (QPP). The QPP requires annual reporting of a variety of quality measures. An EHR can help you fulfill your reporting requirements more easily. EHRs can draw data from across your system without the need for manual data entry or pulling from paper charts.
An EHR can also help you manage your patient population's health by giving your practice simple access to key quality indicators. For example, TempDev’s NextGen EHR Dashboards can help you track population health metrics of interest to your practice. Through regular monitoring, you can identify problem areas and address them quickly. In this way, Dashboards can help you improve your efficiency and the quality of care you provide.
How TempDev Can Help
TempDev’s consultants offer best in class NextGen EHR support. For practices new to NextGen, TempDev offers implementation support and training. Take advantage of TempDev's customized reporting solutions, templates, and workflow optimization. TempDev’s NextGen consultants also support data conversions and data cleaning.
Call us at 888.TEMP.DEV, or contact us here to get started with improving your NextGen EHR.
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