The developmental pace of the health IT industry has been astounding. With numerous innovative products making their way into the market, the healthcare industry is headed for an extreme makeover. Healthcare reforms are the need of the hour considering the current economic crisis of the country, as they aim to bring affordable and quality care to every household in the US. The first step has obviously been the promotion of electronic health records. Serving as a cornerstone of healthcare reforms, EHRs will eliminate paper based medical trails while increasing efficiency through clinical decision support and electronic data interchange.
While EHRs have existed for a while now, their objective is significantly different from what it was two decades ago. Created only as a digital repository, EHRs had minimal functionality. Defining features were limited to input control and basic reporting. Today, the EHR is defined by its data mining capabilities. With the healthcare industry focused on population health management, the importance of ‘big data’ utilization is now more than ever.
Keith Smith, a health IT consultant explains that electronic health records (read more) are the platform for change in healthcare, “We are talking about re-inventing the system, introducing performance incentives for physicians and inducing a culture of accountability. We are talking about coordinated care and patient connectivity. We are talking about better care, lesser mistakes, population health and affordable care. To truly be able to transform to such an extent we must digitize healthcare. We must improve information accessibility and enable connectivity. We must move to EHRs.”
The idea is to remove the constraints of paper based system and enable better communication amongst healthcare professionals. Care quality is often determined by the information available to the attending physician. “There have been countless examples whereby physicians had to treat patients in emergency with little or no information, jeopardizing both the patient’s health and their own professional careers. It is a shame we have to go through these dilemmas in the 21st century,” explains a retiring physician from New Jersey. EHRs are designed to bridge this gap in healthcare by creating self sustainable digital health records, accessible to patients and providers across the care continuum.