Where EHR and Digital Technology is Taking Orthopaedic Healthcare

A cartoon recently made its way around Facebook poking fun at how illegible physicians’ handwriting can be. It showed a group of doctors protesting outside of a hospital, but their signs only had random squiggles on them, making the subject of their protest unknown. Though the joke about physician handwriting is old and familiar, it points out one of the reasons mistakes can happen in healthcare. Fortunately, it’s one of the mistakes that EHRs are helping to eliminate.

From writing prescriptions to relaying lab results, more health systems are switching to EHRs to record patient data.  Identity safeties, as simple as including a photo of the patient, are helping orthopaedic departments to avoid making mistakes in patient care. But even though EHRs have already helped achieve better patient outcomes for many, the best is yet to come. These advancements have the opportunity to positively impact treatment, and also drive down costs for the doctors utilizing them.

Let’s look at where EHRs and digital medical technology may be taking our specialty in the future.

Where EHR and Digitization are Taking Orthopaedic Healthcare

One of the areas where digital technology is showing the most noticeable difference is the shift from a practice-focused to a patient-focused approach. In today’s digitized society, when a patient has a question about the injury or illness that is causing their pain, a few taps on a tablet allows the doctor to quickly share images from diagnostic tests, a video that briefly illustrates their specific issue and a link to a website with a study or explanation of how the treatment will benefit the patient. By improving their understanding of the issue and treatment, the empowerment results in better adherence and patient outcomes. It can also help prevent needless follow-up visits or calls from patients confused by their treatment plans.

Another area where patient outcomes may be improved is through the use of the Internet of Things, the interconnection of devices that can track and send data from patients to physicians. From fitness wearables that track the number of steps a patient takes, to upcoming smart implants that monitor bone attachment, inflammation and infection, these connected tools provide a much wider range of data points than traditional testing methods. This, in turn, allows the physicians to better tailor patient treatments to the individual using very specific analytics. Rather than having to have a patient return several times a month to monitor progress, which can be costly to both parties, joint replacement outcomes and other conditions can be monitored remotely.

While not directly tied into EHRs, there are other advances in digital technology that should excite orthaepedic physicians. While full robotic surgery still concerns many patients, the use of computer-aided technology is helping improve patient outcomes by improving procedures rather than by replacing the surgeon. For example, digital guidance in total knee and hip arthroplasty allows for better implant alignment. Eventually, thanks to the Internet of Things, recovery from these procedures may also be monitored through connected devices and the patient’s EHR.

With the advancements that are coming in orthaepedic healthcare through the combination of EHR into the digital transformation process, we have more opportunities to improve patient outcomes and economize the cost of running an office or department than ever before. But is your practice poised at the edge of EHR advancement, ready to take advantage of these new options? If you aren’t, why not contact Exscribe today to see what an advanced EHR system can do for your practice.