As its name suggests, a chronological record is quite simply the events, encounters, and diagnoses for a specific patient, listed as they occurred. The chronological record is based on when things happened, not when the relevant notes were input. On a paper chart, chronological records can become a challenge, requiring the provider to sort through separate pieces of paper to organize the information appropriately within the file. In an electronic health record (EHR), however, the primary care physician has the ability to view information about a patient as it occurred with that patient.
The chronological record lets the primary care physician quickly see what has happened since the last visit. Specialty provider visit notes, laboratory results, and notes put in by the provider after the visit are listed. Items requiring action are filtered to the top of the chart, incoming reports are clearly organized, and the patient’s pharmacy data is downloaded for a clear view of an up-to-date medications list.
Access to the patient’s chronological record enables the primary care physician to see the whole picture, rather than just notes from the previous primary care visit. Anything that happened in between visits, such as diagnostic tests and specialty provider visits, can be viewed so the provider understands exactly what the patient needs during the current visit and beyond.
Chronological records within the EHR facilitate the primary care physician’s treatment of the patient, giving the provider the “ability to generate a complete record of a clinical patient encounter – as well as supporting other care-related activities directly or indirectly via interface – including evidence-based decision support, quality management, and outcomes reporting.”
Coordinating care is made easier and more effective with chronological records. The primary care physician does not have to search through faxed paperwork or rely on handwritten (sometimes unreadable) notes from a lab or specialty provider to understand the holistic picture of the patient’s treatment plan. Coordinated care enables the primary care physician to provide higher quality care, based on the complete patient profile.