EHRs: How they've progressed and where they're headed

EHRs: How they’ve progressed and where they’re headed

Electronic health records were first designed to enhance practice workflows and overall patient care outcomes. Paper-based administrative procedures were not only time-consuming, but they also increased the likelihood of documentation and data entry errors. However, another aspect that is quickly becoming a large part of successful EHR systems is the ability to share data among multiple care settings.

Since EHRs were first created, they have come a long way, progressing from mere digital documentation tools to systems capable of coordinating care and improving patient outcomes. EHR systems will continue to evolve and change the health care industry.

How have EHRs progressed?
New capabilities that define a modern, advanced EHR system include analytics tools that enable important health information to be used to improve patient care. With more accurate and thorough data available for providers, doctors are better able to make decisions and analyses. 

EHRs also provide physicians with the proper support to make accurate diagnoses and care decisions. High-quality systems organize a large amount of data and present relevant information to improve decision-making processes.

Patient engagement has also become a major component in the development of advanced EHR systems. Enhancing the patient experience has taken priority over additional data capture. Physicians have adopted EHRs for assistance in creating enhanced doctor-patient relationships. Features like mobile applications and patient portals are integrated into many EHR systems to enable providers to reach out to patients outside of appointments for high-level care.

Patients now desire access to technology and portable devices that allow them to track and manage their health, wellness and health care costs. EHRs provide patients with the ability to reach out to their doctors without making an appointment, which has saved patients and practices on health care expenses. To cater to consumers throughout the industry, EHR technology is also becoming more aligned with where people live and work. Similarly, there are innovative EHRs that have been developed for specialty practices by experts within that area of expertise.

According to digital analysis GSMA Intelligence, there are more mobile devices in the world than there are people. With so many patients relying on mobile devices, the new ability to use them to manage wellness and share information will improve population health management as well as the overall health of the population.

What tools can providers expect to see added to EHRs in the future?
Enhanced connectivity between doctors and patients does not simply require patient engagement, but data aggregation and analysis. New extensions of care, such as pharmacy chains and urgent care centers, have increased the need for better data integration and aggregation. With so many points of entry into health care, many EHRs are designed to allow physicians to holistically view an extensive range of data.

Analytics used in population health management is also beginning to expand with the help of EHRs. Innovative technology is moving beyond simply highlighting an at-risk population and is assisting doctors in customizing patient outreach and care plans using strategies that match up with patients' personal health profile. This ultimately would encourage a more customized care experience by enhancing care with a focus on each individual patient and his or her specific needs.

Cost basis functions are essential additions to new technology as well, as health professionals continuously face increasing amounts of risk. Providers are starting to account for tasks like delivery, costs, the use of resources and timing throughout the health care continuum. Patients will also require access to care and cost data if they have an equal financial responsibility for costs. In the near future, the industry may see more solutions for patient self-management transform to offer financial and clinician analysis.