Previously we wrote about the “meaning” portion of Meaningful Use. The “useful” portion, however, we only briefly touched on before. Here we will dive a bit deeper into what specifically makes MU beneficial for the clinic and the patient: Digital information, found in EHRs.
How do EHRs benefit patients?
In short, better care. Access to records from a patient’s medical history can greatly increase the efficiency of which a doctor or EP can assist or diagnose a patient. At present, most comprehensive EHRs don’t go back very far, relatively speaking. But as current patients accrue more information from routine visits over a larger period of time – say, five, ten, or twenty years from now – it will be significantly easier to view trends and recommend actions to be taken, as well as more personal care. For instance, EHRs have made it much easier to spot those at risk for diabetes.
However, this information doesn’t benefit PCPs exclusively; on the contrary, one can make an argument that emergency services will (and currently do, for the patients who have EHRs) benefit the greatest from a complete electronic medical history. This helps everything from an anesthesiologist know proper allergies to a surgeon avoiding possible hazards. Having a full history on an electronic file saves countless hours transferring records, tediously keeping track of paper (which, on a macro scale, also becomes expensive) and allows those authorized to share information that a patient may either not be able to share, or forgets to mention.
Routine personal information like medications, exercise, alcohol intake, dietary and smoking habits, are also present, eliminating the necessity for a patient to fill out long, time consuming forms, and allows doctors to examine the effect changes or medications may have had.
Administrators have access to immediate information, allowing them to effectively manage the flow of patients based on accurate information. This significantly helps triage nurses, emergency rooms, EMTs, and anyone who relies on patient prioritization.
From a larger perspective, when this information is aggregated, it allows entire population trends to be analyzed. This could perform any number of functions from testing new procedures to accurately maintaining birth and death rates. There is no limit to what aggregated information can predict and how information-sharing can benefit the patient outcome, in addition to the plethora of cost-saving methods that can be implemented.
Whether EHRs are implemented in your clinic or not, we can help. At MedPartners HIM, we have subject matter experts for any of your health information needs. We deliver high-caliber Health Information Management professionals in time-sensitive circumstances. No matter the project, contact us to see how we can benefit your business.