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Electronic health records pros and cons

Implementation, adoption and ongoing usage of an electronic health record will change your organization. And with any organization-changing decision, there are pros and cons. Below are just a few advantages to implementing an EHR. We will cover the disadvantages in another post laster this week.


Benefits of Electronic Health Records

  • Improved clinical care. Electronic health records provide the tools to help physicians and nurses make better care decisions. For example, clinical decision support tools, like making medication recommendations based on diagnosis, and built-in clinical pathways, which help guide a hospital through recommended procedures, help ensure patients receive the best, research-proven care.


  • Improved patient safety. Improvements to patient safety are found throughout EHRs. For one, drug-drug and drug-allergy checks help prevent unintended reactions to medications. Secondly, photo-enabled EHRs help identify the patient. Thirdly, but definitely not the last one, barcode medication administration checks for the five rights to ensure the right patient receives the right medication at the right time.


  • Quicker access to patient files / history. Many hospitals still on paper have large rooms dedicated to patient’s files and billing histories. Moving this information to an electronic form allows hospital staff members to be able to quickly pull up information about past visits.


  • Improved care coordination. Electronic health records provide an avenue for better care coordination between multiple health care providers and the patient. Information can easily be shared between the inpatient, outpatient and ED settings. Furthermore, patients are able to more easily access their information, either by receiving an electronic summary of care record or logging into a patient portal.


  • Streamline operations. For rural and community hospitals, their staff members are required to wear multiple hats. EHRs help eliminate duplicate data entry and speed charting so that clinicians spend less time completing “paperwork” and more time with the patient. Also, since information communicated electronically, you eliminate nurses, HIM directors and other staff members from having to physically chase down lab reports, radiology images, doctor sign offs, etc.


  • Increase physician oversight of care. Web-native EHRs allow physicians to review information about their patients from their office, home or other location. This allows them to easily review statuses of orders, monitor vital signs and determine whether their prescribed treatments are successful. Because they can review this information remotely, when they are onsite at the hospital they can spend more time with the patients instead of doing paperwork.


  • Improved billing processes and financial stability. When a hospital’s financial and clinical systems are on the same platform you enable better charge capture throughout your organization. An order is placed and its charge is added to the patient’s bill. Patient transferred from ED to inpatient, bill is updated. Because the billing information is captured throughout the patient’s visit, then at discharge the hospital is able to present a pretty accurate view of where the patient stands — this is what insurance will pay and this is what you’re responsible for.


  • Position hospital for long-term success. Ultimately all hospitals will implement EHR technology. It is where the industry is going as a whole and it has the government’s support. Any hospital that continues to put off this decision and refuses to jump aboard will likely not be around in five years. You can’t stop progress, and you can stop EHRs.



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