Electronic health records (EHRs) have been adopted by thousands of hospitals. HealthIT.gov reported that nine out of 10 of all eligible hospitals achieved meaningful use through December 2014.
Once hospital staff members and physicians became accustomed to EHR technology, they and their patients reaped the many benefits offered by switching from paper to digital health records, including:
- Patient information being more complete.
- Diagnoses being more accurate.
- Better data, leading to quicker and safer decision-making.
- More convenience for patients with shorter wait times.
- Integrated data improving the coordination of care.
- Greater efficiencies leading to significant cost savings.
- Fewer medical and medication errors.
- Improved patient outcomes.
The cost savings and convenience delivered through EHRs are certainly valuable, but their positive contributions to patient care are even more noteworthy.
Predicting Mortality Rates
Studies show that EHR use yields significant clinical benefits. In one study conducted from 2010 through 2012, HIMSS Analytics and Healthgrades found that hospitals using advanced EHRs were better at predicting mortality rates.
Researchers studied 32 different procedures across 4,500 acute-care facilities, and evaluated the associated mortality rate. They then examined the hospitals’ EHR use, and concluded that those using more advanced EHRs were better able to predict mortality rates for most conditions, including stroke, heart attack, COPD, pneumonia, respiratory failure, and stomach and intestinal surgery.
Positive Clinical Outcomes
Through the HIMSS study, researchers also found that hospitals with advanced EHRs captured more patient information. And perhaps most interestingly, the mortality rates of the advanced-EHR hospitals actually improved for heart attack, small intestine surgery and respiratory failure.
How could EHRs lead to positive clinical outcomes? With improved data capture, physicians can better monitor additional patient risk factors, base their decisions on more complete information and manage patient care more effectively.
Healthcare professionals across the country are documenting lives saved thorough EHRs, particularly due to the universal anytime, anywhere access to a patient’s health record.
It’s clear that building improved care models and eliminating errors through missing, delayed or incomplete paper records have been a game-changing outcome of EHR use.
Increased Patient Satisfaction
Although physicians may not always communicate to patients the many benefits they can experience with EHRs, they have proven to be significant:
- Efficiency is probably the most noticeable advantage, which becomes clear when patients are awaiting test results or diagnoses. Primary care physicians and specialists no longer need to contact each to obtain important information, or wait for a lab to send test results; lab results are now sent electronically to healthcare providers, and often directly to patients, as well.
- Convenience is achieved through quicker appointment setting, as well as shorter office wait times as result of improved pre-visit communication.
- Health improvements stem from more frequent reminders of important preventative measures, such as diabetes and cancer screenings.
- Patient engagement often improves, especially when doctors use EHRs to educate patients about their health.
- Increased time spent with the physician, as a result of reducing the time spent searching for charts or tracking down patient information.
When patients feel their time is respected, and understand the status of their health, they are more satisfied with the care they receive.
Successful EHR Implementation Yields Important Results
What is more important in healthcare than saving lives? By leveraging the power of EHRs, healthcare providers have the potential to continuously improve patient outcomes and decrease mortality rates, while improving the physician-patient relationship.
Implementing advanced EHRs equals a win for those on both sides of the screen.