Julius Raj Stephen, Senior Vice President – CES, Omega Healthcare Management Services, chalks down ways by which EHRs can help improve patient care
In recent years, healthcare industry has undergone various transformations in order to improve patient care and services. The last two decades have witnessed a series of national e-health initiatives launched by developed countries and several developing countries to harness the advances in Information and Communications Technology (ICT), improve the quality of healthcare and bring down its cost. Electronic Health Records (EHRs) are one of those developments that these countries have adopted.
An EHR is a platform for collecting and compiling a patient's health information from birth to death so that it can be registered, certified, and shared across places by healthcare providers. It aims to improve the quality of care by acting as an effective means of communication for various healthcare service providers. These EHRs, when captured in structured and standardised codes (medical coding), will help both patient and doctors to stay on the same page.
According to a research report published by NCBI, 'India has seen the benefits of ICT in transforming the lives of its people by the use of ICT in banking, railway reservations, public service delivery, etc. The same can be achieved in the healthcare sector too. The proliferation of mobile phones and the availability of high-speed Internet offer the possibilities to provide healthcare services in rural and remote areas of the country.' The report also states that, 'As more than 75 per cent of outpatients and more than 60 per cent of inpatients are being treated in private healthcare facilities, it is necessary for the government to bring them on-board for using EHR.'
Below are the few ways in which EHRs can help in improving patient care:Easy access to clinical data: Paper-based records used by the healthcare providers might lack essential data of the patient, necessary to have a detailed understanding of the individual's medical history. Basic information such as demographics, immunisation details, known allergies, medical history, test reports, etc. would be readily available in an EHR.
Reduce errors and improve patient safety: EHRs diminish the redundant paperwork of hospital staff to just feeding and maintaining medical records electronically, reducing the possibility of errors. With EHRs, patients can approach hospitals they have never visited before without worrying much about the interoperability issue. EHRs can also help doctors identify any treatment that can have adverse effects on the patient's health.
Efficient revenue cycle management: The electronic availability of health records with the right set of codes reduces cycle time of the entire RCM process. It helps in quick billing and insurance processing improving efficiencies tremendously. Any process or claim can be easily tracked by having the right medical codes in place.
Predictive analysis and care: With all the medical records of a patient organised and maintained electronically, it is possible for the physicians to study their health pattern and predict the possible health issues and diseases they are susceptible to, in the near future. This will help them diagnose and provide prevent care at an early stage, thus benefiting the patient.
The Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, India, has taken several steps to create standards issuing guidelines for EHR standards and meta-standards. A National e-Health Authority (NeHA) is also in the process of being created to look after standards, regulations and related matters. By continuously educating the hospitals on the importance of EHRs combined with support from the government and other stakeholders, India can soon adopt the universal medical coding standards for creating and maintaining EHR's. All these efforts when channelised will eventually lead to better patient care.Read More