Study finds EHR coverage data improves continued patient care

Electronic health records have changed the health care industry in many ways since the majority of providers started to adopt them, enhancing several work flow processes over the years.

A newly discovered benefit of EHR systems is that they can track how and when consumers have obtained health care services. EHR data coverage may improve the ability with which providers are able to access this information, according to a new study by the Oregon Health and Science University. 

Growing consumer population calls for enhanced data coverage 
One of the major changes that the health care sector has experienced over the past few years is alterations to its consumer population. Lower-class consumers were required to obtain health insurance after the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was passed. The Journal of the American Health Information Management Association explained that these individuals previously had no access to care and had to take part in the health insurance market for the first time. The results of the study showed that the continued care of these new patients could be positively impacted by the analysis of EHR coverage data.

EHR systems may improve continued patient care and health insurance use among this segment of the population. Physicians can better monitor these consumers with the help of their EHR systems, which is essential as large numbers of new patients enter the medical care continuum. Using paper documentation to track these consumers is time-consuming and less accurate.

The research was recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association. Researchers from the university used three data sets that focused on Medicare coverage data, EHR coverage data and reimbursement information. Over 69,000 pediatric patients included in these data sets who receive care from Oregon safety net clinics in the Oregon Community Health Information Network were studied. 

The EHR coverage data set was found to be the most accurate of the three sets. The researchers concluded that it was 95 percent accurate, while the reimbursement and Medicaid coverage data had 87 percent agreement. These findings show that there are many similarities between the Medicaid data set and the reimbursement one. The EHR coverage data set also showed a positive predictive value of 0.98 when compared to the 0.88 positive predictive value of the reimbursement data and the Medicaid coverage information.

EHR data coverage set found to be most accurate
According to the researchers, there are several delivery system alterations taking place, but patient enrollment and retention are not yet on the map for future changes. This study proves that clinics should have EHR systems to monitor insurance data.

"Primary care clinics have improved care quality through the creation of patient-centered medical homes, care coordination, population management, patient engagement, and outreach," the researchers stated in the publication. "Optimizing vulnerable populations' access to these services requires improving their access to stable health insurance coverage. This study is significant because it developed a feasible method for measuring the agreement of insurance information that could be adapted to other settings and, if replicated, could support insurance continuity for large numbers of Americans."

One of the most advantageous results of the study is that the strategies for assessing the data can be used in the future to compare insurance data and EHR information throughout various care settings. These methods may also be used to support continued insurance coverage for a bigger portion of the consumer population across the nation. Further studies focusing on additional care settings can use this analysis. It can also come in handy for comparisons between data sets among different health care organizations. 

EHR data may work to enhance insurance stability among the patient population, as the study's findings show that EHR coverage information for pediatric patients was associated with Medicaid and reimbursement data.