5 Ways EHR software improves quality patient care

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Over the years, we've seen technology replace the use of paper records in every industry, and healthcare is no exception.

In fact, the healthcare industry collects and relies on a considerable amount of data, which needs to be stored and retrieved on a constant basis. The advent of electronic health records (EHR) brought about the opportunity to change the way these records were handled.

EHR software has significantly changed not only patient record documentation, storage, and retrieval, but it's ultimately changed the level of care provided. Here are five areas that have seen the biggest impact:

1. Coordination of Care
Through the use of an EHR system, healthcare providers have access to medical records at their fingertips. This means no more waiting for records to be sent to them in order to check their medical history, therefore, no delaying the time it takes to make a diagnosis and put together a plan of care. Patients in critical condition and emergency situations are able to receive proper care based upon their complete health history, which is especially important if they are non-responsive. Providers are less likely to make mistakes when they can see the whole picture, and in some situations, they need to be able to do so quickly.

2. Improved Diagnosis
When physicians have access to a patient's entire health history, they are in a better position as it relates to diagnosing the patient. EHR software allows providers to see patients' health records in their entirety, including all lab results, procedures, surgeries, and past diagnoses. This means past issues, allergies, and other important factors are less likely to be overlooked, and the patients themselves are not responsible for trying to remember their history and properly convey it to their doctors.

3. Lower Cost
Depending on the conditions and circumstances of a patient's diagnosis, the patient may be working with several providers at the same time. In the past, each of those providers might request the same procedures separately — X-rays or blood tests, for example — and each may require that the patient have them done multiple times. This causes not only inconvenience to the patient, but it causes the patient to incur multiple medical bills for the same treatment. With an EHR system, all providers have access to the patients results, requiring that patient to only undergo the treatment or procedure once, and subsequently, paying one bill.

4. Improved Patient Experience
Most patients are familiar with the requirement to complete several forms each time they arrive at a medical appointment. This is time consuming not only for the patient, but for the administrative staff to re-enter this information into office computers. An EHR streamlines that process so that it is only completed once and synchronized with the entire system, so that each provider can access the information instantly and the patient isn't required to complete it again at subsequent appointments. Additionally, through the use of patient portals within the EHR, patients have access to their records from personal computers, or in some cases, even mobile devices.

5. Less Errors
EHR software significantly reduces the likelihood of human error. Providers are no longer required to take notes, summarize care plans, and write illegible prescriptions by hand. Billing is also a cleaner, more direct transaction, making it simpler for practices to accurately track their costs, but also less complicated for patients who receive bills from multiple providers. Additionally, a digitized system of record keeps documents and information from getting lost or misplaced, as is often the case with paper records.

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The use of EHR's improves not only the processes and procedures used by healthcare teams, but it greatly improves the quality of patient care by providing improved diagnosis, better communication, lower cost, and a better overall experience for not only patients, but their families and caregivers as well.

Jessica Barrett Halcom is a writer for TechnologyAdvice.com, with specializations in human resources, healthcare, and transportation. She holds a bachelor's degree from the University of Wisconsin, Green Bay and currently lives in Nashville, TN.

The views, opinions and positions expressed within these guest posts are those of the author alone and do not represent those of Becker's Hospital Review/Becker's Healthcare. The accuracy, completeness and validity of any statements made within this article are not guaranteed. We accept no liability for any errors, omissions or representations. The copyright of this content belongs to the author and any liability with regards to infringement of intellectual property rights remains with them.

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