If your health office has switched from paper medical records to electronic medical records, you’re not alone. In fact, the CDC found that 85.9% of doctor offices use either an electronic medical records (EMR) system or an electronic health records (EHR) system. If you’re familiar with such systems, you probably already know how helpful they can be for medical professionals and patients alike. But one question that often comes up is whether electronic medical records can actually improve the quality of care. For many offices, the answer is yes. Here are the top reasons why.
They Give Medical Professionals Instant Access to Important Health Information
When healthcare providers can view EMRs on any device in the office, they have quick access to the information they need for diagnosis and treatment. Instead of digging through paperwork that’s been building up in a patient’s file for years, they can simply look at a screen and see charts, graphs, and alerts that make the patient’s overall health very clear.
For example, doctors and nurses can quickly see important trending values like weight, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels—and how they’ve changed over the years. EMRs also show lab results and often even give doctors access to relevant resources and calculators to help with patient care. As such, EMRs can help with both preventive care and chronic disease management. In fact, in one clinical trial, disease outcomes were clearly improved when the patients saw a reduction in blood pressure after using an EMR’s screening tool and taking the related medical advice. So it’s clear that when doctors and patients take advantage of the many tools provided by EMRs, there’s a marked improvement in the quality of care.
EMRs Make It Easy to Coordinate Healthcare
Electronic medical records make it possible for busy doctors and nurses to work together to improve each patient’s outcome, from anywhere and anytime. Instead of getting together to pass review charts together or faxing notes to one another, EMRs open up entirely new avenues for communicating with one another. The ability to coordinate care in this way is one reason that 75% of healthcare providers in one report said electronic records let them deliver better patient care overall.
Since health information is stored digitally in an EMR, it is much simpler to share information with a patient's care team. As a result, several healthcare providers have access to the information at any time. As primary care physicians try to coordinate care with care managers and specialists, being able to send discrete data elements into a colleague's EMR while coordinating care for a patient is crucial. The technology for delivering these messages is improving every day also with Direct Messaging and Carequality, care coordination has never been easier.
Electronic Medical Records Are Easier to Read Than Handwriting
A big benefit of storing records digitally is improved legibility. We’ve all heard the quips about how illegible a doctor’s handwriting can be, and sometimes those jokes are not far off the mark. If you’ve ever been unable to read a quickly scrawled note or document in your office, you can see why moving to digital records is a good idea for healthcare providers.
Trying to decipher handwritten records is not only time-consuming but also often dangerous and even deadly for patients. In fact, one study found that over 60% of medication errors within hospitals were due to poor handwriting. Fortunately, the same source found that switching to electronic records has decreased the odds of adverse drug incidents by 52% since many systems are set up to send an alert if a medical professional scans the wrong drug for the patient. In this way, it’s clear that electronic medical records certainly improve the quality of care for patients, simply due to cutting down on careless mistakes that can occur when someone can’t accurately read handwritten records.
EMRs Improve Patient Engagement
Finally, a major benefit of EMRs is the ability for patients to get more involved in their healthcare. This kind of software allows—and even encourages—patients to participate more in their treatment plan in a variety of ways, improving patient engagement. For example, with a patient portal, they can schedule their appointments online so they don’t have to call the office or wait for the doctor to call them. They can also view test results, discharge information, immunization records, and information about medications they’re taking. As a result, they don’t need to call or go into the office to request their health information, as they have instant access to it.
Patient portals also allow patients to input their own information to help their healthcare providers. For instance, they can add notes about their allergies and any medications they’re currently taking. They can also request prescription refills, as well as fill out paperwork digitally before their next appointment. This way, they don’t have to fill out documents when they arrive, reducing their wait time and improving patient satisfaction. Increasing patient engagement in this manner is known to improve health outcomes, making electronic health records instrumental in providing exceptional patient care.
Let TempDev Help with Electronic Medical Records
As you can see, EMRs can greatly improve the quality of care in a variety of ways. If you need help implementing and managing an electronic records system in your office, contact TempDev today to schedule a consultation with us to see which of our solutions can provide the support you need!