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The Benefits of Using Electronic Health Records (EHR) in Healthcare

April 18, 2023
Doctor & Patient Review Medical Diagnosis on Tablet.

Over the last several years, electronic health records (EHRs) have become the norm in healthcare systems. Online health portals, online check-in, online prescriptions, and other elements of patient care have been digitized to streamline the organization of medical records.

Storing medical records electronically provides a higher quality of care — even providing life-saving information. There are many benefits for a healthcare system when adopting electronic health records.

What Are Electronic Health Records?

According to the National Cancer Institute, electronic health records are digitized versions of a patient’s medical information. It contains a patient’s immunization record, appointment log, prescription information, surgery history, current conditions, treatment plans, and more. It is also referred to as an electronic medical record.

These allow a patient to access lab results in a secure portal, and view notes from a doctor’s visit. It allows physicians to communicate with patients outside of an appointment, speeding up processes such as getting answers to healthcare questions.

Why Were Electronic Health Records (EHRs) Introduced?

Electronic health records were introduced throughout the 1970s to 1990s. By the 1990s, EHRs were being pushed to be adopted nationwide. However, in the beginning, EHRs were costly, met with low acceptance rates, and were time-consuming for those who struggled with the limited technology. 

By the 2010s, the majority of healthcare systems have adopted EHRs. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 provided financial incentives for healthcare systems to adopt EHRs, which lead to a major spike in usage.

What Are The Benefits of Electronic Health Records? (EHRs)

There are more benefits to using electronic health records than drawbacks. It is worth it to spend the time and money to implement an EHR in every healthcare system because of the savings it will bring long term. Some of the many benefits include:

Updated Patient Information

With updates made in real-time, healthcare providers will see the most updated patient information about recent diagnoses, current medications, and existing medical conditions. These forms require the patient to fill them out completely before being accepted, so there shouldn't be any missing information.

This is especially helpful in emergencies where time is of the essence and records need to be accessed instantly. Physicians can quickly and easily access a patient's medical records, regardless of where they were previously treated at the point of care. This provides a patient with coordinated care no matter where they seek treatment.

Secure Electronic Medical Record Sharing

Electronic healthcare portals such as PatientAlly are secure so patients can be confident their personal information is accessible to authorized users only. They can access their medical records and share changes with their provider. The patient and physician can use a healthcare portal to track the patient’s progress, which helps with preventative care.

Whether record sharing is between different facilities or different clinicians, it's a secure network with data security. This can give patients the peace of mind that they have privacy when it comes to their health. It also gives patients a direct line of communication with their providers. This provides a level of convenience and confidence in their interactions.

More Accurate Diagnoses, Fewer Errors

A physician can make well-informed decisions with a patient’s most current medical history. This will lead to more accurate diagnoses, reducing the number of errors and improving patient care. 

This provides safer care when the doctor can base decisions on complete medical history. Rather than trial-and-error, a doctor can review what treatments have worked for a patient in the past and base decisions on that data. 

Safer & Faster Prescribing

A complete medical history and an updated list of prescribed medications allow a physician to better prescribe other medications. This is safer so a physician understands how current medications may interact with a new prescription. This will reduce some negative side effects or interactions if the physician can access this information.

It also enables a doctor to send a prescription to the pharmacy instantaneously. Rather than writing it out, the patient driving it to the pharmacy and then having to come back when it’s ready, the patient will be notified when their medicine is ready to pick up. This saves a trip to the pharmacy for the patient, and allows them to get their medication sooner. 

Better Documentation

Inputting patient information takes the guesswork out of these situations and provides accurate, legible notes on a doctor’s visit. This leads to fewer errors and improved productivity because staff can spend less time interpreting handwritten notes. Better data management can also lead to more accurate coding and billing.

Improving Provider Productivity

Less time spent deciphering handwritten notes or having to duplicate information leads to more efficiency for providers. This allows them to be more productive and makes their patient paperwork more organized. Notes taken after a patient visit are entered into the system, which can be accessed by the staff and the patient. 

This decreases the time spent on paperwork, creating a better work-life balance for physicians. This can help reduce burnout. It can help them meet their professional goals in a more organized way.

Reducing Costs

Storing health records electronically reduces the physical space needed for storage. It also decreases the amount of paperwork that needs to be done. It allows for offices to transition to fully paperless offices. This can ultimately reduce errors such as duplicate testing, increasing practice efficiency. It reduces the possibility of misplacing information, which can be costly.

EHRs cut down on questions during office visits, making the appointment more efficient. This in turn enables doctors to see more patients in a day. It cuts down on actual paperwork and allows doctors to spend more time with their patients. 

Consolidating Patient Information 

A well-rounded EHR system will go beyond the standard set of data collected at a doctor’s office. It will provide a comprehensive overview of the patient’s medical history. EHRs can contain information such as:

  • Surgeries

  • Medications (past or current)

  • Medical conditions and their status (current or resolved)

  • Treatment plans with physicians

  • Immunization records

  • Allergies

  • Lab results

  • Imaging results (scans, X-rays, ultrasounds)

It consolidates a patient’s medical data into one digital file to be securely accessed by authorized users. This information gives the physician and medical team the tools they need to make informed decisions about patient care. 

EHRs can automate certain tasks for physicians and patients. They are usually customizable for each medical practice. This streamlines a practice’s operational efficiency and provides data that can be analyzed for trends in a patient’s health patterns. 

The continuity an EHR provides when a patient switches physicians saves time and money. It keeps the doctor from having to start from square one. 

There are many benefits of using electronic health records for patients and doctors. It frees up time from tedious tasks such as billing paperwork or documentation and allows doctors more time to spend on delivering care.