Having an electronic system to streamline healthcare is no longer a luxury, it is a necessity. The number of advantages associated with hassle-free and smooth medical practices, along with sharing information with digitised methodologies and platforms, outnumber the traditional methods the ecosystem has been using. Statistics have shown that more than 86.9% of all office-based physicals in the United States alone have shifted to using EHR in their practice. The adoption rates are rising more, considering the benefits of this system.
For people who are still new and being introduced to this topic, “what are EHR systems?” might be a still relevant question. Essentially, these can be understood as electronic health records that are widely used as an online platform to store and record a patient's important medical history. This is often maintained by the medical provider over time and is known to include any key administrative and clinical information relevant to the person. The information is often comprehensive, including everything from the basic history, demographic details, diagnosis, progress notes, imaging, medications, tests, immunisations, lab data, etc.
The EHR automates access to this data and holds immense power in today’s times as it can greatly streamline the workflow of a hospital or a clinician’s office. It can, additionally, assist any other healthcare activities that are directly or indirectly needed in medical treatment. Often known to be the next step in the progress and upgradation of healthcare, EHRs can strengthen the relationship between doctors and their patients.
They also expand the doctors’ reach to more people, even outside their city or country, as they may get all the information they need online. The timeliness and availability of the data will enable and empower healthcare providers in the country to perform their job at a better speed and more effectively.
Types of EHR Systems
The increasing benefits of EHR systems have not been hidden from the people, which is why the adoption rate for the same has been increasing not only in renowned hospitals but also in clinics and smaller practices. Picking the right healthcare system can be tough as it involves the consideration of multiple criteria that can make it easier to decide whether it will be effective for use at that particular place. This is not a choice that can be made based on a couple of aspects. Most systems that use electronic mediums are not one-size-fits-all.
In fact, many large-scale hospitals believe that they need to customise and tailor-make their systems so that they can suit their needs to the fullest.
There are a few ways in which an EHR system can be configured. These may have their advantages and disadvantages for each practitioner based on their specific needs. Each professional's unique requirements make a specific system suited for them.
- Physician-hosted system – This would mean that the physician and their systems would be the host of all the data. This would be a health record that would be purchased by the physician – including the hardware and the software. They would also be responsible for the continued maintenance and upgrading of the security of the data stored on the servers. This system is deemed to be more beneficial in medical practices of a larger scale as it can cover the overhead costs of any complex software if needed. On-site servers can also speed up the system and make it more reliable.
- Remotely-hosted system – This EHR would be wherein the onus is shifted to a third party instead of the physician. Usually, a company that is hired, would have to deal with all kinds of maintenance, backups, security, and other features that may be required. The system will be responsible for maintaining the data elsewhere, not with the physician or any other medical practitioner. A person interested in collecting and not storing the information will be helpful in this scenario. It can help in private practices where this headache can be transferred to the IT department, and the physician can pay attention to the patient’s care and well-being
- Remote systems – These can be of 3 different types:
- Subsidised – This involves a relationship with some entity that eventually subsidises the cost of the electronic record. A physician often forms this relationship with a hospital, and the hospital controls the data
- Dedicated – This means that the physicians store the records on the server of a vendor. These servers are in specific locations, and most of them are not under a physician's control.
- Cloud – This is one of the most popular types as it is an internet-based system. The vendor stores the information “in the cloud”- this data is secure on the internet and can be accessed through the vendor’s website.
Benefits of EHR System
Now that one is aware of what is EHR, it will be easy to understand its benefits:
- Using medical speech-to-text tools, note-taking will be easier the electronic mediums as practitioners can then prioritise hands-on care.
- It will also be easier to comb through stuff that is already in a brief and concise format rather than looking at overstuffed boxes and cabinets. It improves patient care.
- Most electronic systems can also be set in a way that can alert you when there is a wrong prescription of medication. If one medication that interacts adversely with others is given, your electronic systems will send out alerts.
- It also helps improve overall communication with other practitioners inside or outside the same area. The system's interoperability ensures that there is fast delivery of patient information as and when needed.
- This system can also help you streamline and manage documents more efficiently. Patient intakes, enrolments, administrative work, prescriptions, etc., can improve clinic efficiency.
How to choose the best EHR system?
The most important decision that you will have to make is choosing the right EHR software for your practice.
- Needs – Determine your current needs depending on your speciality and size. Consider the future trajectory of your practice when making the decision.
- Cost – The prices will differ based on the features you choose. Before you take your final call, narrow down a list of potential software and vendors.
- Ease – You must train yourself and your staff to use the system. Make sure it is user-friendly and that not much time will go into understanding the system.
- Type – Cloud-based systems are most common as they are efficient and require no hardware. Estimate your needs and opt for the best option.
EHRs have been making lives easy for a long time, especially in the medical field. This system makes patient care more efficient and accessible as the practitioners can use all the latest tools and technology to deliver the patient's needs. Choosing the right kind of system after assessing your needs would be an essential step to consider. Reap the benefits of this user-friendly and much-needed system and improve the overall healthcare facility.