Electronic health records (EHRs) hold great potential for independent physicians and for their patients. However, many EHR solutions do not offer the capabilities needed for providers to be able to realize that potential. More than just a place to store patient data, an EHR should be the solution that independent physicians and their patients need to stay well informed and to ensure positive healthcare outcomes.
Practice efficiency is certainly one of the potential results of using the right EHR system. In an EHR, patient data is entered and maintained in a manner that reduces errors and duplications. No longer are independent providers or their clinical staff attempting to read someone’s handwriting or searching for a piece of paper in a file folder.
Enhanced collaboration with other providers is another very real potential for independent physicians using EHRs. Providers with patients who see specialty providers, who need lab tests, or who experience stays in a healthcare facility are able to see notes from the other providers in real time, without having to wait for faxes or for records to be sent through the mail. When an EHR enables care coordination through collaboration, the independent physician can see and input updates so that all providers caring for that patient can take action based on the most up-to-date clinical information.
Patient access to their own healthcare record is also a potential benefit for independent physicians. As Michael Dowling, President and Chief Executive Officer of Northwell Health, writes in a recent Forbes article, “When patients know the details of their health and the risks they face, there’s a better chance that they’ll make an effort to change their lifestyle and take corrective action.” Patients who have access to a portal where they can view their health records, test results, and medications, are better equipped to participate in their plan of care.
Though not all EHRs are alike, those that offer these benefits, such as the Elation Clinical First EHR, hold significant potential for independent physicians. As Dowling argues, the potential for independent physicians in an EHR is “a user-friendly tool that integrates artificial intelligence and other emerging technologies that capture and share data that patients and clinicians need and want.”