In recent years, healthcare businesses worldwide have been adopting electronic health record systems.
Digitalization and automation are must-haves for today’s businesses that are eager to step with the times. For the healthcare area, modernization of processes is especially important. That is why healthcare areas from all over the world are adopting electronic health record systems.
Hospitals and medical research centers use the EHR to track their patients’ health states and assess treatment results. This helps facilitate the decision-making for doctors and makes doctor-patient communication smoother and more transparent.
This article will explore the benefits and functionality of the EHR system and consider the implementation process.
Healthcare Market Stats
In 2019, the global digital healthcare market reached $143 billion. The US market has the biggest share thanks to flexible regulations and government initiatives on healthcare digitization. About 37% of Americans use the web or mobile apps for health-related consultations.
In March 2020, the American Hospital Association published the stats about 76% of US hospitals using telemedicine for connecting their doctors and patients. Successful usage of e-prescription and EHR systems also drives the market forward.
In Asia, healthcare digitalization is less spread, but the key vendors drive the market forward by exploring the new markets. In the Middle East and Latin America, there is a high level of chronic diseases requiring suitable monitoring that also stimulates the digital healthcare market’s growth. European countries are adopting digital healthcare as well, and we expect rapid market growth.
Since the governments of many countries prioritize healthcare digitalization, the market is expected to grow by 16.2% each year during the period from 2020 to 2027.
The pandemic streamlined healthcare digitalization and changed the way patients receive their treatment. The social distancing requirements and increased hospital load prevented the patients and doctors from traditional medical appointments.
Numerous technologies, like email, chat, and video conferencing, were already used in healthcare communication. The pandemic made the professionals look for a way of uniting them under urgent conditions.
What is EHR, and Why Does your Business Need It?
EHR aims to arrange the patient’s medical records into a logical system of digital documents. The records will contain all medical history details, including the results of analyses, X-ray images, information about allergies, etc. Besides data storage, the system gives the doctors the tools to facilitate decision-making about the treatment.
If a patient changes the healthcare provider, someone needs to copy and send all the existing records to the new doctor. This single activity reveals many potential problems: connection issues, partial loss of records, etc. EHR helps to deal with these issues and facilitates the treatment process. Let’s see the other useful functions of the system.
- Health record management
EHR replaces paper records and makes it easy to access the patient data like prior diseases, allergies, test results. Electronic records can hold more information than paper ones so that the doctors can make more detailed documentation.
- Keeping test results
Filling the paper medical records with test results requires a lot of time; errors and misinterpretation can also occur. With basic EHR functionality, the lab workers can fill the results into the patient’s record. This allows to the doctors the abnormal results, compare them with previous testings, and take the necessary actions in time.
- Notification system
EHR systems can send notifications for computer-based treatment. The system notifies the doctor about potential drug interactions, reminders about vaccines, preventive screenings, etc. It can also assist the doctor in diagnostics, automatically generating the guidelines for the patients.
- Built-in messaging system
EHR systems help to easier access the patient’s medical records, share them with other healthcare providers. It also can serve for patient education and increase their engagement in the treatment process. The EHR system may also have messaging and email functionality connecting the doctors, test centers, and patients. This streamlines the treatment process avoiding waiting and duplication of the results.
- Patient education
It is particularly important if we deal with chronic diseases. The EHR system can contain educational materials, instructions, and treatment plans for the patients to know the further steps of the treatment. The EHR system can also be integrated with telehealth ones. This will help the doctors to monitor the patient’s progress between the visits.
- Administration & management
With an EHR, the hospitals can improve the administrative processes, such as scheduling, billing, supply management. The EHR helps the patients book an appointment and validate their insurance coverage for tests and medicine.
Read more about the role of the app development companies in medical diagnostics.
Benefits of Using EHR Systems
Introducing an EHR system will be beneficial for all parties: healthcare organizations, doctors, and patients. Let’s see what benefits it can bring to all the parties.
Benefits for Healthcare Businesses
The EHR system can optimize the administrative processes of the healthcare business. It will eliminate the problem of lost or damaged patient files and help to coordinate the work of the entire hospital. Here is a detailed breakdown of the processes that can be streamlined with an EHR system:
- Easy access to the patient records
When something prevents the clinician from easy access to the patient’s medical records, it can frustrate and affect the treatment efficiency. With cloud-based EHR systems, it is possible to access and modify the record from any location without violating the security rules.
- Accurate document management
Applying the EHR system, the healthcare professionals increase the efficiency of working with the documentation. The documentation is easily accessible, the chance of errors goes down, and the data is secured according to international standards.
From the business point of view, the greatest benefit from introducing an EHR is cost optimization. Decreased paperwork, avoiding duplicate actions, reduced chance of errors — all these factors are money-saving ones.
Benefits for Doctors
According to the surveys, 75% of doctors admit that EHR systems help them to provide better patient care and more accurate diagnosis. By storing the patient’s complete health information, the system can automatically check and alert about possible problems with future medication.
It is particularly critical if the treatment involves the work of several doctors of different specializations. EHR helps to securely share the information across different healthcare providers. Each doctor will see the patient’s full history, including past and current medications & procedures, blood type, allergies, etc.
The other benefits of using the EHR for improving the quality of medical care are as follows:
- Streamlined doctor-patient communication
The doctor will be able to check the full patient’s health record at once. There is no need to spend the precious time of consultation questioning the patient about their prior diseases and treatment.
- Reliable prescription management
The EHR system stores the information about current and prior medication. All prescriptions are securely stored in the system eliminating the chance of losing them. In case there is a possibility of drug conflicts or any counter-medication, the system will notify the parties.
- Improved productivity & life-work balance
With routine work automated, the doctor is fully involved in the communication with the patient. He or she doesn’t need to get distracted and waste the working and personal time doing the paperwork.
Benefits for Patients
The EHR systems facilitate the decision-making for doctors and allow the patients to receive more accurate treatment. According to the survey, 24% of patients use EHRs for administrative issues, such as checking test results and making appointments. The same survey shows that 78% of the patients who used the system were satisfied with their doctor’s work.
Let’s see the complete list of benefits of using the EHRs, from the patient’s point of view:
- Getting actual information
With EHR, the patients can access the actual information about their treatment, check test results, make appointments, etc. The EHR systems can also contain educational materials that help the patients be aware of their health state and adjust their lifestyle to prevent disease progression.
- Improved communication with the doctor
Since the doctor doesn’t get distracted on routine matters, there is more time for analyzing the patient’s state and detailed recommendations with the treatment. Getting the answers to all questions helps the patient feel more comfortable during the treatment.
- Automation of routine issues
Making appointments, checking test results, prescription renewal — with the EHR system, none of the parties needs to spend their time on these simple routine actions.
- Security of personal data
The data in the EHR system is secured according to international security requirements. Using the digital healthcare system reduces the chance of accidental deletion or damage to patient data compared to traditional paper and chaotic computer records.
9 Main Stages of EHR Implementation
EHR implementation is a complex process since it involves such complex areas as medical and computer science. It requires tight cooperation of physicians and programmers and a serious training process.
For you, the Jelvix team prepared a brief EHR implementation plan template.
Stage 1. Setting the Team
Before coming to the implementation, you need to set up a qualified team to design its workflow and control the software development part. Taking into account the specifics of the project, we recommend paying attention to attracting the following specialists
- Lead Physician
This is a tech-savvy healthcare specialist that will guide the implementation from the medical point of view. He or she will work as a mediator between the development team and end-users — doctors and patients.
- Project manager
The project manager will serve as a mediator between the software vendor and the client. This specialist will track the progress, control the EHR implementation timeline, and handle all the issues.
Stage 2. Vendor Selection
The essential stage in EHR development is choosing the technology vendor. At this stage, the client discusses the cooperation with several providers, trying to select the best one. How do you define a suitable company?
We have prepared three basic criteria for vendor selection:
Due to the importance and specifics of the EHR systems, it’s far better to choose a company that already has experience in this area. Ask the company representatives to tell you about their cases in your industry.
At the stage of negotiation, pay attention, how the company representatives are answering your questions and provide you the necessary information.
- Time zone, location
Timezone differences have an impact on the working process, but this is not a critical factor. The company location also affects the hourly rate of the team and your entire budget.
Stage 3. Creating the Roadmap
Before coming to the implementation, you will need to create the roadmap of development. This will help you visualize the work scope, clearly define the tasks, and control the development process.
The roadmap will be a kind of detailed breakdown of the stages we will enumerate lower. Mainly, this is an area of responsibility of the project manager.
Stage 4. Define the Budget and Timeline
To make the working process transparent and predictable, you will need to calculate the estimated time and budget for implementation. Apart from the team salaries, the main implementation costs are as follows:
- Hardware & software upgrades
- Cloud provider fees
- Staff training fees
- Data storage & backup, security compliance
- The development stage
Stage 5. Infrastructure Preparation
There are two installation options for an EHR system — cloud-based and on-premise one. Using a cloud-based model, you rent the hardware and the computing power from a cloud provider. On-premise installation guarantees you full control over your data, but you will need to set up a data center on your own.
Infrastructure also involves the system of computers and tablets used by your staff in their everyday work. While developing your EHR system, you need to take this into account.
Stage 6. Software Development
This stage is the result of prior cooperation on product design. It doesn’t end even after the product release since the EHR system needs constant maintenance and updating.
Stage 7. Security Compliance
In America, health information is protected by HIPAA regulations. It obliges the healthcare providers to store and exchange PHI (Protected Health Information) under the protection of security safeguards. Here are they:
- Administrative safeguards
They refer to the organization of the working process. Administrative safeguards involve creating the security instructions, information access regulation, training the personnel, regular security audits, etc.
- Physical safeguards
They involve actual protecting of the physical equipment. Physical safeguards regulate access to working places, maintaining the proper equipment condition, prohibiting the employees from taking the laptops home.
- Technical safeguards
They deal with protecting the information itself. Accessing the information with passwords, encrypting it with security keys are an example of security safeguards. Many companies also have an electronic trail journal. It logs all the actions with PHI and helps determine who and when has accessed it and what changes have been made.
Stage 8. Data Transfer
This stage involves cleansing the patient data and its transition to the format of the EHR database. The key stages of data transfer:
- Digitalization of paper records
- Data cleansing and validation
- Configuration of EHR database
- Mapping the data transfer to new data
- Data transfer
- Testing and validation of the data in the database
The healthcare institutions admit that after the data transfer, the number of errors reduced by 10%.
Stage 9. Staff Training
The implementation of EHR needs staff awareness about the new software usage. Couching helps staff to interact with the software and to explore the whole functionality.
The IBM research states that properly done training increases team productivity by 10% and saves the company about $70.000 annually. That is why it should be considered one of the integral EHR implementation steps.
The training program should include:
They are the early adopters of the systems. Super-users are the clinical staff members that have prior experience of using the EHR system. These professionals take part in all stages of its development and know the system better than other colleagues. They will be able to guide them during the training.
- Specific training
Different departments will be using different components of the EHR system. To increase the efficiency of training, it’s better to focus on teaching the staff to perfectly use their specific component, but not to study the full functionality of the EHR system.
- Customer support information
Establish an adequate support system to give the customers answers to their questions. This may be individual feedback from the mentors and community library in webinars, online lessons, and different types of material.
- Feedback system
The purpose of the training is to teach the staff to use the software and gather their feedback for further improvement. Encourage the staff to regularly give their feedback, analyze it and identify the common areas of confusion. This should be done during the training and when the system is used to work with the patients on a regular basis.
Having read the article, you are familiar with the importance of EHR implementation. Since it affects not only internal company processes but also impacts on the patients’ health, the quality of its implementation is particularly important.
Here at Jelvix, we can assist you with creating and implementing your EHR system. Feel free to contact our team for a free consultation regarding EHR development.
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