The US Department of Health and Human Services found in 2017 that 96% of hospitals and 86% of physicians’ offices were using electronic health records (EHR).
EHR, also sometimes referred to as EMR (Electronic medical records), has the potential for contributing to Meaningful Use, if used optimally. Moreover, it can improve patient safety, efficiency of care, and outcomes, while reducing costs. EMR or EHR systems can also increase patient engagement and clinician productivity.
Here are some EHR trends that are likely to take center stage in 2021.
The EHRs developed by various vendors use proprietary technology and storage formats. Since they don’t work well with each other, patients often face difficulty when they move cities or practices.
But the FHIR standard will greatly improve access and sharing by enabling patients and providers to read data from different EHR systems. Most EHR vendors have accepted this standard, and the US government may soon mandate its use as well.
Medical records’ availability can be life-saving in an emergency. But on the other hand, unguarded availability can lead to misuse of patient data. That’s where blockchain comes into picture.
Blockchain offers a cryptographically secured method to make EHRs secure yet available to authorized personnel. It would ensure that records are not accessed or maliciously modified. Blockchain enabled EHRs could be used for the automated validation of claims, to track medication distribution, and to ensure the authenticity of prescriptions.
EMR systems can protect your patient from medication errors by flagging dosage errors, interactions, and incompatibility matters.
However, these systems often do not work as intended, because of the sheer number of alerts. So many alerts are triggered by minor issues that clinicians and staff routinely dismiss them, sometimes missing major issues in that process.
As EHRs evolve, they will learn which alerts are unimportant and show less of them, which will greatly improve patient safety.
Clinicians report spending 49-85 minutes every working day dealing with their EHR system’s inbox.
There are test reports, messages from staff and other doctors, messages from patients through the patient portal, medication refill requests, computer-generated messages and alerts – it’s a long list.
In 2021, expect artificial intelligence (AI) to learn what messages you consider important and which ones you routinely forward to clinic staff for action. Over time, your Inbox will be lighter, with only the messages that need your personal attention.
Clinicians spend a significant portion of a patient’s consultation looking for information in the EHR and typing in data. Both patients and doctors are unhappy with this.
In the near future, you will be able to verbally ask for a report. And your AI-enabled voice recognizing EHR will read out the report, along with the normal levels, while you interact with the patient.
Documentation and updating records will also be easier in 2021.
A microphone, voice recognition, AI, and natural language processing (NLP) will combine to reduce fatigue and time required. Your EHR will decipher what it hears. And then convert it into text, and insert it into appropriate parts of the patient’s record.
Medical records will always be needed. However, there is no going back to paper folders. Thus, EHR is the future and will keep advancing. It will not just record medical encounters. But its capabilities will expand to communicate with the laboratory and imaging centers. It will also facilitate telemedicine, and manage every aspect of a patient’s interaction with the healthcare system.
EHRs will soon evolve from a document to a full-fledged system that manages all aspects of a patient’s healthcare. The EHR will also be able to suggest optimal plans for a patient with multiple health issues.
An accurate, sharable, machine-readable health record will always be critical to the delivery of care. These are exciting times for the healthcare industry and EHR is its central component.
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