How can EHRs help with coordinated care? July 27, 2017
When a patient has a condition that must be treated by specialty providers, a referral is generally made by the primary care physician. Typically, the referral is faxed over. After the patient sees the specialty provider, the primary care physician may have to wait for visit notes or test results to be faxed back. Occasionally, it is actually up to the patient to relay to the primary care doctor the information that resulted from the specialty visit.
The typical process takes time. It may result in errors or omissions. Mistakes can be made when all the relevant information is not shared professionally and in a timely basis. Fortunately, physicians using electronic health records (EHRs) have all of the patient data they need at their fingertips, without wasting what could be very precious time and without fear of missing data.
Coordinated care between the primary care physician, specialty providers, labs, pharmacies, and healthcare facilities is crucial for the quality of a patient’s care. Those patients with chronic or complex conditions, especially, need to know that their doctors are coordinating care plans, medications, and tests, for the best possible healthcare outcomes.
As the Office of Health Information Technology (IT) points out, “EHRs have the potential to integrate and organize patient health information and facilitate its instant distribution among all authorized providers involved in a patient’s care.” The information contained and easily accessed in an EHR allows for better information sharing and provides all physicians with accurate and current medication lists.
Errors and duplications can be virtually eliminated when all physicians caring for a patient have access to that patient’s EHR. In an emergency situation or when a patient’s condition is in need of immediate treatment, time can be a significant factor in the quality of that patient’s care.
Physicians who use EHRs can depend on immediate and accurate information available to all physicians involved in a patient’s care, so they can focus on the quality of that care rather than wait for paperwork or depend on the patient’s memory for their coordinated care efforts.