EHR trends that EHR developers need to know
Electronic health records (EHRs) contribute to the advancement of healthcare quality in many ways. The technology has improved significantly over the past several years and will continue to move forward with new capabilities in the years to come. There are EHR trends that EHR developers need to know to serve the current and future needs of independent physicians and their patients.
A recent report released by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) stated that “fully using modern computing tools is critical to advancing health care.” The report focused on areas in which the EHR developer could contribute to that goal, by enabling patients to easily and securely access their medical information on any electronic device, including their phones. It also pointed to the need for all providers caring for that patient to have access to the data to inform care decisions.
Access, interoperability, and adapting to an increasingly digital world are among the trends that EHR developers need to know and respond to, for improved care and improved patient outcomes. Working with independent providers to identify their specific needs, such as certified health IT, improves the user experience while supporting the technology the physician and patients need to be successful.
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Recommendations for the EHR developer in the ONC report included:
- Focus on improving interoperability and upgrading technical capabilities of health IT so that patients are more securely and easily able to access and move their health information using their smartphones and so that providers can send, receive, and analyze patient data.
- Increase the transparency in data sharing practices and strengthen technical capabilities of health IT so that payers can promote economic transparency and operational efficiency, which would in turn lower the cost of care and administrative costs.
- Prioritize improving health IT and the overall administrative burden and time inefficiencies for health care providers so they can maintain a focus on their patients, not their computers.
Additionally, trends that the EHR developer will need to consider going forward include:
- Voice recognition – the potential for an independent physician to verbalize questions for the EHR system, such as a question regarding the patient’s specific test results.
- Big data management – adding to the ability to manage population health more effectively, by way of predictive analysis.
- Improved patient access to their own healthcare data – while patient portals may be easily accessed on a laptop computer or tablet, patient preferences are trending toward wanting access via other electronic devices such as smartwatches.
- Connection with the medical Internet of Things – wearables, EKG monitors, and other devices will need to connect to the patient’s record in the EHR, enabling the independent physician to monitor these critical tests and their results remotely. Physicians can also use remote devices connected to EHR technology to ensure patients are taking their medication properly, to monitor their blood pressure, and to assess their oxygen levels, for example.
- Interoperability – projected to become the backbone of healthcare technology, the ability for all providers caring for a patient to see their data in real time is one of the major EHR trends that the EHR developer needs to understand. Interoperability promotes improved quality of care as well as improved workflows within the independent practice.