Electronic health records (EHR) have many benefits that are well-known to patients and doctors alike, but not everyone is aware of how EHRs improve data collection — and how that has an impact on public health. In fact, experts are finding that the data contained within EHRs can help improve healthcare for patients and the public as a whole. Here’s how collecting and displaying certain information about patients is making a substantial impact on healthcare.
What Kind of Data Do EHRs Collect?
To understand exactly how EHRs improve data collection, you should first be aware of what kind of information EHRs are meant to keep track of. In general, everything that relates to a patient’s health—both past and current—may be contained within his or her EHR medical record. This includes the following:
- Demographic information
- Medical history
- Family medical history
- Vital signs
- Medication list
- Current and past diagnoses
- Treatment plans
- Lab test results
- Physical exam results
- Hospitalization information
- Pathology reports
- Notes from doctors and nurses
- Billing information
As someone involved in the healthcare industry, you can likely see why including all this information in one place—to be easily accessed by the patient’s entire medical team—is beneficial in many ways. For instance, EHRs save doctors, nurses, and front office staff time and effort by letting them easily view, edit and share this information from any device rather than sifting through paperwork to find it. But the benefits of EHRs don’t stop with the medical team, as they also extend to patients and the public.
How Do Patients Benefit from Data Collection Through EHRs?
The use of EHRs in healthcare has major advantages for patients. For example, when doctors at every practice can quickly pull up all relevant medical information for a patient, that saves time during the appointment—leaving more time for the doctor and patient to discuss any questions or concerns. But beyond that, it actually improves the care that patients get, leading to better patient satisfaction and superior health outcomes. And that’s mostly thanks to the fact that doctors can use important data they find in the EHR to make the right healthcare decisions for patients. When they have instant access to test results, medication lists, allergies, recent treatment plans, and more, they’re less likely to accidentally order duplicate tests or prescribe medication that may counteract the drugs the patient is already taking. One report listed the most common ways that hospitals and doctor offices use EHR data when it comes to patient care. They include the following:
- Support healthcare quality improvement — 82%
- Monitor patient safety — 81%
- Measure organization performance — 77%
- Identify high-risk patients — 68%
- Inform strategic planning — 67%
- Find gaps in patient care — 60%
- Determine how much the medical team adhered to clinical guidelines — 59%
- Create an approach to ask for patient data — 51%
Clearly, the data collected by EHRs has been immensely helpful in improving patient care. But it doesn’t stop there, as it can also improve the health of the community as a whole. That’s why it’s important to consider how EHRs improve data collection—and the beneficial actions medical professionals can take once they have this data available to them.
How Does Public Health Benefit from the Data Within EHRs?
In recent years, experts have seen how EHRs have the power to improve public health outcomes, simply by collecting certain important data and encouraging healthcare organizations to access and even share it. More specifically, according to the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC), EHRs can improve public health reporting and surveillance by allowing healthcare providers to collect standardized data and send it to public health officials when necessary. For instance, they can send health data to relevant registries—such as immunization registries—to improve public health, making it easy to send reminders to people that they need an immunization. They can even send out public health alerts based on the data collected within EHRs, protecting the health of entire populations by preventing and managing diseases that may threaten communities. The flow of information using data collected from EHRs doesn’t just go from doctors to public health officials. It can go the opposite way, too, as public health officials can alert doctors to disease outbreaks in the area, ensuring healthcare providers know to test patients and ask them about certain symptoms when they come in for an appointment. Public health officials can also use EHR data to give doctors guidance on managing diseases that might be currently threatening certain populations or the local community as a whole. In this way, the data in EHRs can improve public health.
TempDev Can Show You How EHRs Improve Data Collection and More
If you want to know more about what EHRs can do for patients, providers, and the public, engage with TempDev to learn more about ways to improve interoperability. Our team is well-versed on how EHRs can benefit your office and how to choose the right one, so contact us today!