EHRs Could Help Improve Preventive Care and Patient Outcomes

by | Published on Jun 24, 2019 | EHR/EMR

With the emphasis placed on value-based reimbursement, healthcare providers need to focus on ways to improve patient care and treatment outcomes. Medical chart review is an important process used to evaluate patient data to understand the particular health condition or disease and the results of treatment protocols. Chart review is also significant from the point of view of health insurance reimbursement. While this process is a primary method employed for quality improvement, there are other measures also that can be adopted with a view to improve healthcare quality. Preventive measures are very important in this regard. The electronic health record (EHR) is credited for its capability to enhance the quality of care provided to patients and many physicians have acknowledged this already.

Patients are ensured better medical care when healthcare providers have access to complete and correct medical data. The EHR can help improve diagnosis and reduce or even prevent medical errors and thereby ensure improved patient outcomes. According to data,

  • 94% of providers say their EHR makes medical records easily available at point of care
  • 88% of them say their EHR produces clinical benefits for the practice
  • 75% report that their EHR enables them to provide better patient care.

A good EHR system maintains an accurate record of a patient’s medications and allergies among other important information. It checks for any issues or concerns whenever a new medicine is prescribed and creates alerts for the physician regarding potential conflicts. Since information regarding allergies is recorded in the EHR by the primary care provider, if the patient is admitted in the ED for some emergency care, the clinician is alerted regarding the allergy and the emergency staff can adjust care accordingly even if the patient is unconscious.

An important advantage of the EHR is that it helps improve risk management by providing clinical alerts and reminders. A 2019 study made by researchers at Penn Medicine shows that EHR alerts may be more effective in encouraging physicians to prescribe preventive therapy than educating physicians on the value of such therapies. The research team employed both peer education and EHR alerts to update doctors on which patients may benefit from acid suppression therapy, which is considered useful to reduce the risk of gastrointestinal bleeding in at-risk cardiac patients. The researchers found that while education on acid suppression therapy didn’t make a significant impact on prescribing rates, EHR alerts recommending preventive therapies contributed to an 18% increase in prescribing rates. The study proved that although clinical leaders should work together to identify best practices, care redesign, technology, and behavior change strategies are also required. Before launching the EHR-integrated dashboard, prescription rates for cardiac patients who may benefit from acid suppression therapy was less than 73%. After launching the EHR alerts, prescription rates increased to more than 86% for patients in the health system’s Cardiac Intensive Care Unit. This study demonstrated that EHR alerts can improve patient health outcomes in diverse areas of care by prompting providers to employ preventive therapies.

EHRs can help improve the collection of patient data, its analysis and sharing among the care team. By making it much easier to study all aspects of a patient’s condition, EHRs help speed up diagnostic and therapeutic decision making. The comprehensive medical information available helps prevent adverse events, and alerts providers against prescribing treatments that could lead to unfavorable events.

Apart from protecting patients and ensuring them the best health outcomes, certified electronic health records can help providers avoid liability actions by

  • Making available complete, clear records for the defense (reconstructing what actually took place at the point of care)
  • Proving adherence to the best evidence-based practices
  • Revealing evidence that suggest informed consent

The electronic health record provides many advantages to the medical, legal, and insurance businesses. It makes medical record retrieval easy for a medical chart review company and thereby speeds up the review of medical records that is so important from a legal as well as a medical perspective. There are yet shortcomings to be addressed and EHR vendors are collaborating with providers to develop the best systems customized for diverse medical specialties.

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