EHRs help reduce health disparities

Certified EHR technology helps reduce health disparities

As patient needs and expectations change, providers must continue to update their strategies that ensure patient satisfaction and enhanced care outcomes. Ever since electronic health data transfer and better access have become a vital part of meeting patient expectations, electronic health record implementation has also become increasingly important.  

Triple Aim remains key to improving health care industry
Interoperable health IT will help health professionals achieve the Triple Aim of health care, which includes lowering costs, enhancing care quality and improving population health management. Certified EHR systems will provide physicians with the tools to better coordinate care and manage long-term care processes. The ability to exchange patient medical data will also improve patient care quality.

The health care industry is facing a number of obstacles, including patient medical adherence and insufficient care coordination. According to the American Hospital Association, Tomás León, the president and CEO of the Institute for Diversity in Health Management, recently announced that he strongly believes the implementation of certified EHR technology will ultimately lead to improving these disparities.

Setting goals to achieve the Triple Aim is crucial to creating a bright future for the health care sector, as improving care coordination and care quality is essential to moving the industry in the right direction. To accomplish the Triple Aim, enhancing patient experience and engagement with patient portals and better health information exchange will help providers across the country continue working toward this long-term goal. 

"One of the biggest opportunities that the Institute, with support of the AHA, has is to convene and lead this effort across the country in a shared call to action," León explained in a public statement. "There's an opportunity for the Institute to lead the way in how we support and help hospitals and health systems connect with diverse communities and stakeholders to change those conditions that are resulting in health disparities and chronic health conditions."

EHRs help predict suicide risk
A press release from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs explained that one way population health management, a key aspect of the Triple Aim, can be improved with the help of certified EHRs is with the Veterans Health Administration health system. Researchers from the National Institute of Mental Health and Veterans Affairs where able to use strategies to pinpoint areas of the country's population that were particularly vulnerable to suicide risk. The scientists examined information gathered from 2009 to 2011 to identify which of the 1 million patients analyzed were at high risk of suicide. 

"As the largest health care provider in the U.S., VA has the responsibility to continuously examine how our extensive suicide prevention efforts are working, and to identify critical opportunities for improvement in service to our nation's veterans," Caitlin Thompson, deputy director for suicide prevention for VA, said in the press release. "This collaborative effort with NIMH provides us with unprecedented information that will allow us to design and implement innovative strategies on how to assess and care for those veterans who may be at high risk for suicide."

Less than one-third of the patients had been determined to have a high suicide risk clinically, which emphasizes the fact that predictive modeling with the EHR system was more accurate than clinical flagging. Health management and certified EHR technology were used together to help prevent certain mental illnesses and provide the care that patients need. In fact, most of the patients that the scientists found to be vulnerable to a higher risk of suicide had been overlooked by their providers. 

EHR systems make models like this possible, advancing the care provided to patients, such as veterans through the VA's suicide prevention program. This will make it possible to customize prevention efforts and ensure that all patients are safe.