Viewpoint: Once viewed as tech burden, EHRs may now be considered an asset in coronavirus pandemic

EHRs are helping hospitals and health systems across the country manage surging care requests and coordinate virtual visits during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Tom Still, president of the Wisconsin Technology Council.

In an April 13 op-ed published by, Mr. Still wrote that caregivers' perceptions of EHRs may be shifting from burdensome to an asset as they maneuver rapid increases in COVID-19 patient volumes.

EHRs, coupled with online tools such as telemedicine, help hospitals analyze COVID-19 testing trends and manage critical care cases, according to Mr. Still. While EHRs can't process COVID-19 tests, they can help identify trends including geographic hot spots where testing is increasing.

In Wisconsin, home to Verona-based EHR giant Epic's headquarters, several health systems were early adopters of EHRs, Mr. Still wrote. Because of this, Wisconsin "runs anywhere from a few percentage points to 10 percentage points ahead of national averages for [EHR] adoption by patients, office physicians and hospitals," he added.

The state's collective Epic EHR usage allows it to pool COVID-19 testing data to analyze how resources such as beds and ventilators are being used across the state, according to the report.

EHRs are also helping hospitals and health systems deploy and manage telehealth services. Healthcare systems such as University of California-San Diego Health and New York University NYU Langone Medical Center have moved more than half of their primary care visits to being done virtually, in comparison to single-digit percentages prior to the pandemic, according to Mr. Still.

More articles on EHRs:
Chicago health department deploys Epic EHR at 3,000-bed COVID-19 alternate care facility
HHS to reportedly delay enforcement of interoperability rules
New York health department implements Epic EHR at Javits Center field hospital

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