How Does EHR Improve Patient Care?

How the Electronic Health Record Benefits Providers and Patients

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The expansion of health information technology is important to the improvement of the health care industry as a whole. Health IT, which includes the electronic health record (EHR), enables health care providers to effectively manage patient care through the use and sharing of patient records.

Benefits of EHR - Electronic Health Record

  • Security Information can be conveniently and securely transmitted over the internet. This lessens the chance of access by anyone who is not directly related to the patient's care or does not require the patient's information to effectively do his or her job. Rather than paper charts being transported and stored where anyone with physical access may read them, access codes control points of entry.
  • Accuracy Software requires complete documentation for coding, so needed information is not left out of the medical record. A record can't be submitted without all of the required information. Physicians and staff are prompted to fill in items they may otherwise neglect. They must use standard terminology and often can choose from a set of choices via checkboxes rather than having to compose an answer for each item. The electronic record also eliminates mistakes due to the inability to read the physician's writing.
  • Faster Results Electronic information can be shared with other health care providers or patients faster than paper records by providing instantaneous access to the entire record. It eliminates delays in receiving laboratory and imaging results, pharmacy and prescription orders, and physician visit and progress notes. The electronic health records can be shared across associated facilities so specialty providers and primary care providers have access to the same record at the same time.
  • Lower Costs EHR eliminates copying expenses in addition to lower expenses for the administrative and clerical support necessary for transcription, documentation, and requests for information. It also reduces space requirements for record storage.
  • Patient Safety One important safety feature of an EHR is medication management. Physicians have instant access to what types of medication a patient is taking to reduce adverse reactions and medication errors.

Medicare Incentives for EHR

Effective May 2011, eligible physicians, hospitals, and other medical professionals were eligible to receive payments to promote the adoption and meaningful use of health information technology (HIT) and qualified electronic health records (EHR). Stage 1 of the EHR Incentive Program established requirements for the electronic capture of clinical data. The Stage 2 final rule added a focus on supporting the aims of the National Quality Strategy and continuous quality improvement at the point of care. The program will progress through Stage 3 in 2017 and beyond.

Medical providers eligible for Medicare EHR incentives include: Doctor of medicine or osteopathy, doctor of oral surgery or dental medicine, doctor of podiatric medicine, doctor of optometry, and chiropractor. 

Eligible professionals that demonstrate meaningful use will receive the maximum incentive amount depending on the year they begin to participate in the program. They may apply to participate at the CMS website.

Medicaid EHR Incentives

Medical providers eligible for Medicaid EHR incentives include: physicians, dentists, certified nurse-midwives, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants in an FQHC or RHC.

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