Electronic Health Records And Cost Saving Research Paper Samples
A brief history of Electronic Health Records (EHRs)
Electronic health recording system refers to the computer storage of records such as medical details of patients, treatment process and other related information applicable in the context of healthcare. Traditionally, medical information could be recorded on papers and stored in files for retrieval when needed. Often, the process of recording medical information on papers proved cumbersome because doctors had to take a lot of time tracking important information. Worse still, storing of patient information on papers contributed to information gaps because of missing records especially when health practitioners would be transferred across stations.
In response to the complexity of medical care and the increase of urgency to keep, accurate health records especially in the 1960’s, health practitioners had to improve their information storage (Hamilton, 2011, p.2). With the desire to improve information storage and make it easily available when needed, innovators introduced computer storage of healthcare data.
Apart from the patient information, other functionalities have been introduced to accommodate more information as it is necessary to improve patient care. Some of the additional informational stored electronically include drug interactions, allergies, dosages, side effects and findings from academic studies. Certainly, the introduction of electronic medical records was aimed at enhancing the quality of healthcare services.
2. List the acronyms for EHRs
Electronic Health Record (EHR)
Typically, EHR entails a set of functionalities such as laboratory data, patient demographics, immunizations, care alerts, chief complaints, medications and progress notes. In addition, EHR includes past medical history, e-prescribing, radiology reports, evidence-based decision support among others (Hamilton, 2011). Prospectively, personal health record and a continuity of care record will be incorporated as components of the electronic health record components.
Electronic medical record (EMR)
Essentially, an EMR comprises of all clinical and medical data collected in a single provider’s office. Simply, an EMR is a paper chart, digital in version, which contains the entire medical history of a patient from a single practice. Mostly, an EMR is useful for diagnosis and treatment processes.
Computer-based patient record (CPR)
Concisely, the EMR is a digital/computer record that details a lifetime history of a patient and includes information from all fields. Moreover, this record is accessible to all healthcare providers even to international levels.
Electronic Patient Record (EPR)
It refers to a computer-based patient record containing the medical information of a patient relevant at a given time and circumstance. Precisely, EPR is similar to CPR except that it only carries information excluding behavioral, dental or alternative care. Additionally, the EPR does not limit itself to lifetime medical information but can sometimes cover specific periods.
Continuity of care Record
Simply, CCR entails a standard that is pertinent for summarizing and representing a patient’s health information electronically. Objectively, the CCR is designed to make current patient information readily available to doctors in order to minimize medical errors. The CCR comprises of patient information, medications, allergies, future treatment plans among others.
Personal Health Record (PHR)
PHR is a tool useful for patients to play in interactive role with physicians in tracking and sharing and updating their medical information. in some cases, this set of information gives physicians more insights into the patient’s medical history and eliminates chances of performing repeat tests. In this respect, this reduces inconveniences of being unnecessarily subjected to medical procedures and saves money. Additionally, the PHR allows patients to ask questions concerning their health without necessarily having to go in person to physicians.
3. Describe the barriers to EHR use
Firstly, the Electronic Health Record system is relatively difficult to operate. In essence, entering data into the computer is comparatively challenging than handwriting on a piece of paper. Initially, it proved challenging especially learning how the computerized system works considering that there were not enough computers in healthcare setting (Hamilton 2011). Additionally, the systems were undergoing gradual development and had not reached a point where medical alerts and system warnings were available.
Secondly, it is not easy to accurately determine the returns on investment of installing EHR. Working with the HER requires purchase of computer hardware, software, system maintenance, training of staff and upgrading of the programs from time to time (Hamiliton 2011). Considerably, there was no guarantee that the EHR would be economical because even intangible variables were to be included in the calculation of RON.
Thirdly, use of electronic health recording system attracts trust and safety concerns. Unlike in paper, the electronic records are easy to alter, and this can be done without the knowledge or consent of physicians. In addition to human alteration of records, the electronic system faces information security risks such as program crashes and computer viruses. All these threats to electronic health records raise safety, trust issues and compromise the reliability of the EHR system.
Fourthly, the standards for EHR systems are not exhaustive. The EHR systems have a weakness because of lacking interoperability, compatibility, and uniformity. Initially, there were differences among programs in terms of features, which compromised the exchange of data. Standards for the EHR systems are not yet fully established leading to reliability and operational shortcomings.
Finally, introduction of EHR systems requires undertaking of significant changes in the healthcare settings. With the changes, it may be difficult for healthcare providers to adapt to new procedures of entering and locating information. Additionally, the electronic system is more rigid in terms of information entry and management.
3. Describe the benefits of EHR
Electronic health records enhance both the accessibility and quality of clinic information necessary for constructive physician decision-making (Hamilton, 2011). At all times, the patient record is available at the point of care and is not restricted to any location as in the case of paper charts. With the improved access of patient records, the physician can go through the past medical history, immunization records among other details in order to reach a conclusive treatment procedure. Beforehand, a healthcare provider utilizes the current patient electronic information to make informed treatment choices. Moreover, a doctor can provide instant information, for example, upon receiving a phone call from a patient who is far away from the health facility. Obtaining information from a digital system is easier than when studying paper charts.
Similarly, electronic health records are pertinent in improving patient safety. These records avail routine reminders and information for the healthcare providers to be always on course. The automatic retrieval of health maintenance screenings using patient age or family medical history makes the healthcare provider proactive in the provision of patient care (Hamilton, 2011). With the automated medical evaluation, the health practitioners find it easy and efficient to make decisions in time to save patients from suffering. Notably, healthcare has become complex and keeping electronic information is pertinent to creating distinctions among different patients’ record with affecting accessibility to such records when needed. With almost all, the patient information available to healthcare providers’ decision making is easy and treatment process are conducted timely with a reduction in medical errors.
In addition, better patient care is achievable with the use of electronic health records. Admittedly, the availability of comprehensive clinical information leads to better care delivery. The physicians are well versed with treatment protocols and recommendations available in the electronic healthcare systems (Hamilton, 2011). Moreover, the healthcare providers receive notices and system alerts that enhance their consistency in healthcare provision. For example, drug recalls are efficiently handled with reports created electronically to reveal the patients under various medications. Further, the EHR minimizes incidences of repletion of lab tests because it is not easy to lose the stored information. The quick access of this information using designed search criteria leads to timely diagnosis and treatment of patients.
Alternatively, the use of EHR is pertinent in creating financial savings and overall efficiency. With the introduction of the electronic system, storage costs and retrieval costs are eliminated. The computer-based programs provide an easier and quicker communication platform among the medical staff. For example, electronic health records make it easy to report to health organizations. When reporting processes are simpler, time is efficiently utilized and often leads to cost savings.
4. Discuss the current EHR incentives
The EHR incentives in the United States have taken place in the recent past following the government’s commitment to the enactment of American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. In initiating development of the healthcare infrastructure, the government allocated $19 billion in the year 2010 (Hamilton, 2011). In additions, the funds were aimed at assisting healthcare providers and healthcare related entities in the installation of health information technology. Nowadays, funds are available through the Medicaid and Medicare systems to drive the adoption of technology such as EHR in healthcare. Procedurally, the health practitioners are required to use a certified EHR system as one of the basic provisions. Compliance with certain provisions especially by doctors is rewarding because they will receive an incentive payment from Medicaid and Medicare services. Essentially, the year 2010 was set as a beginner for any payment for providers complying with the set requirements and standards (Hamilton, 2011).
Alternatively, a healthcare practitioner who would have complied with the provisions of EHR as per the outlines of electronic healthcare record policy would have been eligible to receive payment at the beginning of the year 2011.Notably, the amount receivable as at 2011 was $18000. In addition, the incentive program covers a long-term accumulative benefit of up to $44 000 throughout the operational period of Medicare and Medicaid programs (Hamilton, 2011).
Good programs take time and sufficient resources to implement and stir the operation. The incentives are purposed to create motivation for adoption of EHR to enhance financial savings, patient safety, and greater efficiency. Essentially, eligible hospitals and critical access hospitals can obtain up to $ 2million.
Hamilton, B. (2011). Electronic health records. Boston: McGraw Hill Higher Education.
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