For the primary care independent physician, a patient’s electronic health record (EHR) offers a single, convenient location to review that patient’s medical history and input visit notes. In essence, the EHR is a patient’s longitudinal record (PLR), “a longitudinal electronic record of patient health information generated by one or more encounters in any care delivery setting.” The information can include “patient demographics, progress notes, problems, medications, vital signs, past medical history, immunizations, laboratory data and radiology reports.”
The PLR enables the primary care physician to gather the patient’s full medical history. Typically, when reviewing a paper chart, the physician may only input the information necessary for a specific visit rather than spending time flipping through handwritten notes from previous visits for the full profile. The EHR offers the physician a complete longitudinal record at the touch of a button, so the primary care physician can trend labs and vitals over multiple encounters for a more holistic and longitudinal overview of the patient’s health.
When that medical data is shared between the primary care physician and a specialty physician, lab, or healthcare facility, it is shared as a collaborative health record (CHR). An independent physician taking advantage of CHR technology can compare data with colleagues with the click of a button. A CHR is always tailored to the patient and the physician’s specific clinical needs around that patient.
Patients with chronic or complex conditions, in particular, rarely see only one physician. They may require diagnoses and treatment from specialty physicians, tests and x-rays from a laboratory, and even a stay in a healthcare facility. With a CHR, the primary care physician can access that patient’s information from any provider in the network without waiting on faxes, requesting records, or chasing down results.
Likewise, when taking advantage of the collaborative EHR, other physicians treating that patient will get immediately notified so they can take action based on the most up-to-date clinical information. The patient receives accurate, timely treatment based on current data. CHRs can help reduce wasted time and potential errors by enabling all appropriate physicians complete visibility into the patient’s health.