For most patients in 2023, the start and continuity of every healthcare encounter flows from the Electronic Health Record (EHR) system. In nearly 4 out of 5 office-based physician offices, a standard patient visit kicks off with a scheduled appointment where important information on basic details, medical history, insurance particulars, and more are collected. Through EHRs, this information, together with prescription records, test results, and other relevant details are not only readily accessible but exchangeable across healthcare settings.
Today’s EHR systems are primarily a digitized version of the paper chart, but have evolved to provide even more specialized functions. Modern electronic health records are now divided according to product, type, application, and end user.
Read on to learn how advancements in software technology are driving the EHR market, and how this technology is supporting interoperability and collaboration for improved health outcomes.
Electronic health records are a digital collection of a patient’s medical history. It features data about past diagnoses, medications, allergies, treatment, and other valuable insights. If the current $28 billion value of the EHR market is anything to go by, this technology is poised to continue in the lead as the key structure for health record keeping.
EHRs offer an abundant value proposition as a centrally located and readily accessed patient record structure. Recognizing the importance of this system, initiatives like the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH), and the 21st Century Cures Act promote standardization efforts like Health Level 7 (HL7), and the Trusted Exchange Framework and Common Agreement (TEFCA) to improve interoperability between health organizations.
These resources have made EHRs a recurrent fixture across hospitals, clinics, physician offices, pharmacies, and other healthcare settings. To store valuable patient data, these institutions may adopt EHR software that is client-server or cloud-based.
Organizations that adopt a client-server usually have three things in place: a local data center, an IT team, and large amounts of data for daily operations.
Client-server EHRs implement software on individual devices like computers. A hospital with this structure in place will commonly have EHR-enabled computers stationed in different departments, like a nursing station where officials with relevant access and permissions can retrieve patient data.
For hospitals and large healthcare systems that use this infrastructure, these establishments usually have in-house servers that are stored and managed by IT professionals. Client-based EHRs are customizable to meet the necessary specifications for daily duties.
By working with local network connections, client-based systems have a measure of protection against all-too-common data breaches.
Cloud-based servers permit healthcare providers, payers, and other relevant parties to upload health information in real-time to a remote location, accessible via the web. This broadens access to health information, as verified personnel using a tablet, or smartphone can access patient information from different locations to locate information uploaded to a third-party cloud computing service.
Cloud-based servers are ideal for health practices with several locations, or providers operating on a smaller scale. These servers can be customized and improved, depending on care delivery and administrative needs. Cloud-based EHRs are currently taking the lead in the EHR race.
These structures require limited effort at software deployment plus hardware, server space, and personnel costs as this is managed off-site by the host server. However, client-server EHRs remain popular for their added security, and their independence from an internet connection which may simplify access for certain users.
Before becoming the EHR, record depositories were computer-based patient records, computerized medical records, and longitudinal patient records. While these names indicate replaced sections of the paper chart, EHRs have evolved into different types, depending on factors like their specific features, the practice’s specialization, plus interoperability needs.
There are two types of Electronic Health Record systems:
When a patient is brought into an emergency care setting, vital information on past medical conditions, allergies, medications are readily pulled up using acute care EHRs.
These systems support the unique needs of an immediate and intensive medical care setting. For instance, an acute care system can offer decision support benefits and clinical decision support advantages.
Ambulatory EHRs suit the specific requirements of outpatient medical settings. These EHRs are standard features in specialty care centers, outpatient clinics, urgent care centers, small clinics, and larger medical groups.
Providers use these record systems to stay on top of appointment management, e-prescribing, and clinical documentation.
With Meaningful Use mandating the popular use and adoption of EHRs across care settings, EHRs have continued to become a staple feature across the health industry. These records and systems have advanced data as the bedrock of care delivery, while promoting patient participation, and improving physician workflow in healthcare.
The following are healthcare trends we can come to expect in EHR operations:
With artificial intelligence (AI) transforming healthcare centers into smart hospitals and clinics, this technology is also making its way to increase EHR efficiency for improved patient outcomes.
Through AI integration with record systems, providers will have access to accurate disease classification, while speeding the time to analyze images and other medical data in medical records. Using EMR data, AI algorithms have projected the risks for disease in patient populations, with AI-EHR programs displaying close to 95% accuracy when predicting cases of diabetes mellitus in patient populations.
This development will improve medical quality, while promoting the prospects of personalized care for patients.
Telemedicine and EHRs are a dynamite combination for promoting patient care delivery. Remote care will be enhanced through the combined interaction of up-to-date patient records, and telehealth features like video consultations, and secure messaging between patients and providers.
Health professionals are not only empowered to manage patient care from any location, but adopt accurate record keeping during these interactions through steady updates to the EHR system.
Electronic health records are a kickoff point for widening patient access and outcomes in healthcare.
Through these systems, patients not only have a firsthand view of their health history, but care is also improved through enhanced medication safety. EHRs improve medication list accuracy, and are steps ahead in identifying potentially dangerous drug interactions, while keeping patients alert to potential errors when administering medication.
APIs are a key component for keeping access to electronic health records open.
EHRs that make use of software like Metriport’s open-source Medical API will not only gain real time access to patient clinical data, but also will be able to update these records to improve treatment and healthcare interoperability.
APIs also promote advances in patient care by enabling third-party applications to integrate with EHRs. It is through these code structures that telemedicine platforms, remote patient monitoring devices, wearable devices, and others can integrate with these record systems to ensure providers remain proactive when managing patient welfare.