Electronic health records
Electronic health records (EHR) are taking the place of paper documents for recording and retrieving patient medical information. Using a tablet or notebook computer, providers can look up a patient’s complete medical history in an instant, see test results, procedures and prescriptions, look at x-rays and medical imaging, enter exam notes, order tests, imaging or prescriptions, and request/confirm authorizations and referrals. EHRs promise to improve healthcare and hold down costs through better coordination of care and eliminating duplicate tests and procedures.
But there’s a rub. There’s still a lot of paper arriving into healthcare providers’ offices every day.
- Documents arrive when patients come for office visits or when other providers send info by fax or mail.
- These documents must be scanned to the provider’s EHR system, often a multi-step process that requires optical character recognition, then individually navigating and categorizing patient files. This is a complex, error-prone process.
- When patient information needs to be shared with other providers, it’s often sent by trouble-prone, insecure fax.
Most importantly, EHRs must meet strict HIPAA standards for confidentiality.