Electronic health records, or EHRs, are digital versions of patient charts. They can be accessed from multiple electronic devices and can be updated in real-time, which can provide physicians, nurses, and health care professionals the most current patient data possible regardless of where they’re located. EHRs can also contain a wealth of patient history, from previous diagnoses and treatments to lab results and radiology images. This information can be shared across health care providers and other key medical groups, such as labs, pharmacies, emergency clinics, and medical specialists. Ultimately, it allows everyone involved in a patient’s care to be on the same page at all times, even if they aren’t in direct communication with each other. This ability makes EHRs a prime mover in the concept of health information technology.
As cloud computing and other high-level tech-driven concepts become more prominent, the implementation of health records systems has become an increasingly vital necessity for health care administrators to provide optimal patient care. Because of the complexities involved with setting up and maintaining an EHR, implementing one in a way that seamlessly integrates with existing health care tactics involves a cohesive strategy consisting of several steps to assure proper effectiveness and efficiency. It’s a strategy that involves careful scrutiny of metrics such as cost, security, and interoperability. Ultimately, with a proper EHR system in place, health care facilities can improve their ability to provide an optimal level of patient care – one that can potentially improve patient outcomes.
Steps Successful EHR Implementation
Even as the usage of EHR has flourished since the early days of incentivization, there are still concerns about the process that may make health care facilities reluctant to implement an EHR strategy. Reservations about cost, safety, and security tend to be the prime movers of the reluctance to get involved.
Strictly speaking from a cost standpoint, the long-term benefits outweigh the short-term price tag. Studies indicate that a well-functioning EHR system can cover the cost of implementation in roughly two and a half years.
There are also other potential challenges that facilities face that may make them hesitant to implement an EHR system. For instance, they may receive pushback from individuals that may be hesitant to switch to a new way of doing things. These concerns may come from staffers set in their ways or from stakeholders that may not be convinced that implementing an EHR system will be worth the cost. There may also be concerns about the work involved, as migrating data into an EHR can be a time-consuming affair.
Fortunately, the HRSA (the Health Resources and Services Administration), a unit of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services responsible for the implementation of incentives, curates a step-by-step process to help overcome the potential challenges of implementing electronic health records. These steps can help health care facilities utilize EHR in a way that ideally fits the scope of their organization, from their staff to their shareholders.
As you complete your online Master in Health Administration and start your career, you will undoubtedly encounter new technologies that are continually being integrated into the health care system. Electronic Health Records (EHRs) constitute an important technology, as widespread implementation has proved challenging. See what goes into this implementation at Healthcare Organizations in the infographic below: