As of 2024, Electronic Health Records (EHRs) are a prominent feature in 96% of hospitals across the United States. These systems are a foundation of health information technology, as they house comprehensive patient data, and support the goals of a connected healthcare system through the digitization of medical information.
For medical practices looking to make the best of their operations, relying on the EHR as a keeper of health information isn't enough. To take full advantage of the benefits provided by this system, clinicians and patients alike must streamline their data storage choices to communicate with existing software systems, record necessary data, and fulfill other expectations for clinical plus administrative record-keeping.
EHR technology is not designed to encourage a one-size-fits-all approach for healthcare facilities. While known names like Epic and Cerner dominate the EHR platform market, the different health sectors drive a demand for customization when choosing EHR technology. For instance, while Epic Systems focus mainly on medical groups like independent practices, rehab centers, and community hospitals, Corner’s specialty is health information technology systems catering to different specialties.
Epic software provides critical assets used across record systems in healthcare. Having 48% of market share in the US, Epic provides clinical information including patient data and clinical documentation. The Epic platform also provides decision support tools, alerts, and reminders for providers plus other relevant stakeholders.
For larger organizations, Epic may also provide assistance for financial operations via billing and payment processing features. Patients are prioritized under Epic coverage with easy access to health information and communication via the patient portal. A distinguishing factor for Epic is its customer relationship management tool, Cheers. This software allows call centers to access medical histories, simplifying the scheduling and healthy query process.
Cerner is a cloud-based EHR commonly providing operational, clinical, and financial tools. Cerner is favored for its ease in integrating with third-party applications, and has partnered with over 50 applications. This system is also effective for clinical decision support, incorporating evidence-based guidelines and real-time data analytics, while providing standout telehealth services through its PowerChart Touch software.
Healthcare organizations may require different types of systems to accommodate diverse needs and specialties. Tailoring EHRs to specific contexts enhances interoperability, data accuracy, and overall patient care, reflecting the diverse landscape of healthcare practices and ensuring that technology aligns with distinct organizational demands.
The following are the 5 common types of EHR systems for healthcare settings:
Physician-centered EHR systems are designed with a primary focus on the needs and workflows of physicians. These systems aim to enhance doctors' efficiency and user experience by providing tools and features that align with their specific tasks and responsibilities.
These EHRs often include intuitive interfaces, quick navigation, and customizable templates to streamline documentation. Decision support tools, medication management, and order entry features are also tailored to meet physician preferences. The physician is usually responsible for maintaining and securing the servers, software, and data backup.
Healthcare organizations use remotely-hosted systems as a way to delegate the management and service of EHR data. Health data under this system is stored on another entity’s servers. Here, the entity is under the control of the third party, where it may be structured in a subsidized format where the entity such as a hospital, controls the data, while undertaking the finance of electronic records.
EHRs may also be operated via a dedicated hosted system where vendors are responsible for data storage, with information stored in servers across disclosed physical locations. More modern adaptations have shifted health information from servers to cloud systems or internet-based computers.
Enterprise EHR systems are comprehensive tools used by large healthcare organizations. These systems bring together different aspects like patient records, clinical workflows, billing, and administration in one platform. These EHRs are designed to work well for large healthcare systems, making it easy for different parts of the organization to share and update patient information.
Using a single system makes it simpler for healthcare professionals to collaborate and access the latest patient data. These systems are flexible and can also be adapted for use in organizations of different sizes, helping them work more efficiently. Enterprise EHRs are crucial in improving patient care, reducing mistakes, and making healthcare management more streamlined in today's complex healthcare environment.
Ambulatory EHR systems improve the quality of patient care by providing a digital tool for patients to manage health data from patient information, appointments, prescriptions, and billings, making it easier to access this data. These systems are designed for providers in outpatient facilities, and is a preferred option for streamlining workflows and supporting the delivery of care outside hospital settings.
An open-source EHR is a type of digital healthcare system where the software's source code are open and shared with the public. This transparency allows anyone to view, use, modify, and distribute the software. This system is a collaborative and customizable tool that healthcare organizations can freely adapt to their specific needs.
A great example of a modern open-source EHR is Medplum.