Electronic Medical Records (EMRs) are the storage of patient medical history and treatment in a digital format. This format allows the records to be electronically shared across HIPAA-compliant networks so that various members of a healthcare team can be aware of up-to-date patient information. As a tool, EMRs have been important in our changing patterns from using a single care physician to a multidisciplinary professional teams for treatment. As with everything that has been digitized, EMRs also bring the benefit of saving time for patients that are exhibiting new problems as well as getting a status of existing medical states. The addition of new laws and changes within the medical industry for patient care has allowed EMRs to play an important role in ensuring compliance and has expanded the abilities in the use of EHRs (Electronic Health Records) to incorporate additional features and functions for healthcare improvement.
Certified EHR technology (CEHRT) is an EMR/EHR technology that has been tested, reviewed, and certified for use in compliance and incentive programs administered by Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). They have been designed to offer incentives to healthcare providers so that they use these technologies that have been proven to live up to program standard requirements.
EMRs are the basic storing of patient medical records that replace the older style paper version and are used for access, sharing and daily medical environment workflow. EHRs offer the ability to be interfaced with other medical software to open up new and improved methods to interact with the patient, billing, and reimbursement options.
While the original versions of EMR and EHR software were separated, the more recent versions have become an EMR/EHR blend so that they are integrated, bringing advantages that can assist healthcare providers in working with patients to improve existing conditions and possibly circumvent future ones.
The goal of the EMR/EHR systems is to act as a tool to offer improvements for disease management, act to target patients with appropriate prevention, and improve overall health.
The EMR/EHR technologies that are now available for healthcare providers bring an incredible array of current status information and data such as:
Studies have shown that the resource tools available through the use of EMR/EMH have provided improvements in disease control on a broad scale and have provided more informed and enlightened clinicians on the needs of their patients. Additional uses of EMR have been used to access whether patients have had screenings required for their age/demographics such as mammograms, colonoscopies, etc. as a form of cancer prevention. Each of these actions serve as a point-of-care to assist in assuring that a patient has full analysis for their needs and helps to reduce disease states and mortality rates.
Relationship improvement between the family physician and the team members that are part of a multidisciplinary healthcare group are improved with the use of EMR/EHR. Specific notes, consultation letters, and patient nuances can be shared in a seamless stream so that all team members are aware of the current status. Automated reminders for scheduled appointments and rescheduling has offered an easy method for patients to feel confident of their care. The use of patient portals that sync to the EMR/EHR systems streamline office appointment processes for more efficiency while making it simple for patients to comply with their schedules. Each of these steps offer simple ways for patients to be more engaged with their providers and their personal care.
Prescriptions from all medical professionals are easily shared in a database, reducing errors as well as overmedicating, medicinal interactions, and complying with state and federal laws regarding certain classes of drugs. The use of interfaces with other HIPAA-compliant software and hardware also help to ensure that patients receive reminders for prescription renewals and pickups. Enhanced technologies also offer medication/pill identification and information. This has been especially helpfully with the guidelines established for opiates as members of the medical community try to work with patients that have developed an addiction.
Medical provider office workflow also receives improvements with the amount of time saved which allows a clinician to schedule and see more patients. A provider can access their clinical data in real time, review charts, schedule follow ups, send laboratory requests and reminder alerts. With 24/7 digital access, the amount of time spent trying to locate lost or misplaced records is no longer an issue. An additional benefit of EMR/EHR is that they offer a savings in automated transcribing, thereby reducing staff and time needed by transcribers.
The enactment of the 21st Century Cures Act in 2020 by Health and Human Services has added an additional requirement by all medical and health service providers that work with patients off-premise to comply with new electronic requirements. This act replaces the old paper trail with digital requirements for patient visits, details of services, and sign off by patient and departure times. The Cures Act is interfaced with EMR/EHR so that billing accuracy to the insurance company, Medicare, or Medicaid and assists in deterring errors or fraud.
EMR/EHR can expedite the previous tedious paperwork format so that the billing and details are sent to the insurance company, Medicare or Medicaid. The system maintains a current updated list of all medical codes and code changes so that there is a reduction in error or miscoding which led to rejected claims and speeds up reimbursement time factors.
EMR/EHR offers faster communication results for lab and radiology reports. With all systems integrated, patient results are expedited to each of the medical providers that need them so that they can review and take additional actions for treatment when necessary. The process offers an improvement for patient care while saving time trying to track down requested results.
Expediency in case of accidents or a disaster is a priority. EMR/EHR allows physicians to access all patient data in the case of an accident, allergic reaction, medication error, or an unforeseen disaster. The integrated technology brings all information to the forefront for emergency rooms or physician offices so that they can act quickly and potentially save lives.
EMR/EHR technologies are available to meet the size and needs of the healthcare provider.
Midsize practice of from 6-25 physicians can improve efficiency while having the option of integrating with additional systems in other healthcare networks.
Larger practices typically have 25 or more physicians and may also be involved in multiple specialty clinics that require scalable solutions.
In-patient organizations such as hospitals, longer term care, and acute care centers require the ability to assign nurses and physician rounds and plan for patient beds. These systems integrate with additional applications and technologies.
Locating the technology that fits specific needs and requirements while being flexible for growth can present a daunting task. There are a variety of systems available at varying prices, however, there is a requirement to match the features offered with the size of the practice. If you are starting small to medium you will want to find a technology that offers expandability. Almost every good EMR/EHR vendor has a full list of features and options as well as a video that can cover the details.
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