EHR and Health IT Consulting
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EHR and Health IT Consulting
Technical Doctor's insights and information collated from various sources on EHR selection, EHR implementation, EMR relevance for providers and decision makers
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Pros and Cons of Patient Access to Electronic Medical Records

Pros and Cons of Patient Access to Electronic Medical Records | EHR and Health IT Consulting | Scoop.it

Doesn’t it seem faintly ridiculous that patients have to jump through hoops to get access to information that, since it is in digital format, would be so readily available to them? Today’s patients are quite accustomed to being able to access data on demand, from whatever location on Earth, as long as they have Internet access and a mobile device or laptop computer.

 

They can, for example, log into their financial institution’s website to check their latest details. Parents of school-aged children routinely access a portal developed by their school to get information about upcoming tests, new requirements, and so on.

Furthermore, the advent of email, text messaging, and social media updates has lead to people becoming accustomed to easy communication with one another. But think about how much of an effort it is for patients to communicate with a medical practice (waiting on hold on the phone to leave a message for a nurse practitioner, for example, and then having to wait more for a reply that might not come until the following day).

 

You may have already deployed a patient portal for your organization, but are not quite sure about the protocols for sharing information. Or, you are somewhat familiar with patient portals, but you’re still not sure whether it’s a good idea to even have one and you would like more information before making an investment in this software solution.

 

Familiarizing yourself with the pros and cons of patient access to electronic medical records is essential before you pull the trigger and launch a patient portal at your organization.

Modern medical practices that have forward-thinking leaders will already have electronic health record or EHR software installed or are about to deploy it. An EHR is a database of all the records for your patients. It’s much more efficient than an antiquated, paper-based method for organizing charts in your practice. The EHR lets you keep track of all important information, from medical history, current diagnosis, details of the treatment plan and any medications that have been prescribed.

One feature of Electronic Medical Records software that medical professionals should be aware of is the patient portal, along with its benefits and potential drawbacks.

Pros of Allowing Patients to Have Access to their Electronic Medical Records

A major pro of patient portals is that they improve patient engagement. Engaged patients are more likely to stay loyal to a practice as compared to other organizations that don’t make much of an effort to connect.

Your staff can easily receive messages from patients over the portal, in a process that’s as easy as email. This cuts down on a lot of wasted time on both ends (patients forced to stay on hold to leave a message by phone, and staffers having to write down the message).

 

A patient portal reduces the total amount of time spent on the phone and can cut down on unnecessary visits. What’s more, it has been proven to reduce the number of no-shows.

Patients will be happier, since they can access their medical information using their own electronic devices, even when on the go.

They will also appreciate being able to check prescription information and request refills online. When patients need to schedule an office visit, they simply sign into the portaland make a request. This makes things easier for them as well as for your staff.

 

Finally, a patient portal eliminates one of the great drudgeries of modern medicine: patients having to fill out a big stack of paper intake forms before they have their first meeting with the doctor.

You can let them input their information through the portal (such as at a kiosk in your waiting area, or from the patient’s computer). They won’t have to fill in their address or list of allergies more than once, and your staff won’t have to transcribe information from potentially messily handwritten documents.

Cons of Allowing Patients to Have Access to their Electronic Medical Records

While there are a number of clear benefits to using a patient portal with your EHR or EMR, there are also some drawbacks to be aware of, so you can address them head-on.

For example, when you enable outside access to your EHR information via a portal, data security concerns will naturally come up. The system must use strong passwords and should include the latest encryption and other protections. Otherwise, patient data could be compromised, leading to fraud and identity theft.

A portal can be tough for some patients to comprehend, especially if they have been used to doing things the old-fashioned way. However, you can educate and acclimate patients to the portal when you explain the benefits to them.

There is also the issue of patients being exposed to more medical jargon then they are used to, including acronyms and strange Latin terms for body parts. But they can always look up terms they are unfamiliar with, or simply ask a member of your team for an explanation.

 

Your older patients may not be very tech-savvy, which could hinder their efforts to log in and access data through the portal. But portals interfaces can be easily simplified and a simple training brochure or online video could make a big difference in getting more patients used to the idea of using the system.

It’s natural to have a number of questions about installing an EHR and activating a patient portal for your practice. Once you have a better idea of how patient portals can empower your staff as well as your patients, you’ll be on your way toward deploying one in your organization.

Key Takeaway:

  • Electronic health record or EHR software enables you to activate a special patient portal.
  • A patient portal is a great way to let patients access their own information on demand.
  • One con to keep in mind with patient portals is that some patients may not have much experience with computers, preventing them from getting the most out of it.
  • Another drawback is the potential for data breaches, so you’ll need to work with a vendor that provides robust, secure EHR software.
  • Patients will appreciate being able to check into the system to set an appointment or request a prescription refill.
  • Your staff will waste less time because patients can leave them electronic messages via the portal, instead of having to stop what they are doing to respond to a call.
  • Patients find it liberating to gain more access to their lab test results through the portal, rather than waiting for the report to come by surface mail or a phone call from the physician.
Technical Dr. Inc.'s insight:
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5 EHR Benefits We Seem to Have Forgotten About

5 EHR Benefits We Seem to Have Forgotten About | EHR and Health IT Consulting | Scoop.it

Here are a few of the guaranteed EHR benefits:

  1. Legibility of Notes: Physicians' handwriting has been the topic of many jokes. While it’s funny to joke about, it’s not funny if you’re the physician receiving one of those illegible notes or the billing office trying to get paid based on some illegible chart note. The beauty of an EHR is that the notes are all typed in a font that can easily be read. The whole issue of physician handwriting goes out the window.
  2. Accessibility of Charts: Charts are more accessible in an EHR in two distinct ways. First, the concept of a lost chart basically disappears in the EHR world. When you want the chart, you search by the patient’s name or other identifier and instantly have access to the patient chart. No more searching through the chart room, the lab box, the nurses’ box, the box on the exam room door, etc. for the lost chart. Second, the chart can be accessed from anywhere in the world. Gone are the late night phone calls which require you to drive to the office to view the chart. An EHR can be accessed anywhere you have Internet.
  3. Multiple Users Accessing the Chart: How quickly we forget the fact that only one person could use the paper chart at a time. In fact, entire workflows were created around the fact that two people couldn’t work on the paper chart at the same time. In an EHR, the nurse, doctor, front desk, HIM, and billing staff can all work on the chart at the same time.
  4. Disaster Recovery: Many people are afraid of disaster situations with their EHR. While this is an important topic, an EHR can be so much better in a disaster than a paper chart. If your chart room goes up in flames, what could you do? Not much. Your charts were lost. In the EHR world, you can easily create multiple backups and store them in multiple secure locations including secure offsite storage. This takes some thoughtful planning to do it right, but EHR makes it possible to store multiple copies of your data which minimizes your risk of lost data. This is so much better than a paper chart in a disaster. With a cloud-based EHR this redundancy is often built in, and there is little or nothing you need to do.
  5. Drug to Drug and Allergy Interaction Checking: Yes, we’ve had Epocrates in our pocket for a long time. That was a huge improvement over those stacks of books on the shelf. However, EHR takes that one step further. Your EHR knows about your patients’ list of allergies and the drugs they’re taking. These extra pieces of information can provide a much deeper analysis of any drug you’re looking to prescribe. I don’t remember a prescription pad ever alerting you to an issue with an allergy when you were writing the script.

Obviously this is just a small list of the guaranteed benefits. We could create an even longer list of the possible, probable, and future benefits of an EHR as well.  I’ll just cap it off with one simple example. How are you going to handle pharmacogenomic medicine on paper? It’s coming. The simple answer is that you’re not doing pharmacogenomics on paper. You’re going to need technology, and it will likely be connected to your EHR.

While I still don’t think we’ve realised all of the benefits that we could have (and many might say should have) from an EHR, we shouldn’t forget the many benefits an EHR has already provided. Far too often we evaluate our current EHR implementation against the perfect EHR as opposed to the alternative. EHR software has already provided a lot of benefits, but the most exciting thing is that we’re really just getting started. The future benefits will be even more impactful than the benefits we’re receiving today.

Technical Dr. Inc.'s insight:
Technical Dr. Inc.'s insight:

Contact Details :
inquiry@technicaldr.com or 877-910-0004
www.technicaldr.com/tdr

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