EHR use expected to increase regardless of whether the ACA is repealed

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) continues to be threatened with repeal and replacement. Even as the new bills are debated and delayed, however, many aspects of healthcare will continue to move forward. Advances in technology, particularly in the use of electronic health records (EHR), are actually predicted to increase as they positively impact improvements in patient diagnosis and treatment.

The Harvard Business Review (HBR) has identified three aspects of healthcare that are not affected by the deliberations over the ACA:

  • The population will continue to age, the article points out, and aging patients will need expanded health care delivery.
  • The research and discoveries that impact the life sciences will continue in healthcare laboratories.
  • The use of technology that has “become a pervasive element across the health care system, with a major impact on diagnosis, treatment, and communications,” will continue to increase.

The HBR article points out that the use of EHR has grown tremendously over the past few years, from one in five practicing physicians using an EHR in 2004, to the nearly nine in ten who use the tool today. EHRs are important instruments in the independent physician’s practice, used to “guide treatment, assess outcomes, and measure quality of care.” In addition, coordinated care driven by EHR interoperability will become increasingly important to the treatment of the aging population.

Life sciences research also continues to be impacted by electronic patient data. The increase in discoveries in the laboratory is “being driven by two major trends: the availability of personal health data, and the plummeting cost of integrating massive health data sets in the cloud.

Technology will play a significant role in healthcare delivery now and in the future, regardless of political debates over healthcare insurance and payment options. Advances in EHR systems, particularly in interoperability between the systems, will continue to fuel advances in improving patient outcomes and in the overall quality of healthcare.