As the transition to electronic health records continues, we’re beginning to see how the use of EHR software can transform the ways that care is provided, as well as the quality of that care. With increased adoption, EHR software is becoming an integral part of the healthcare experience for both providers and patients.
In the U.S., changes to HIPAA regulations and incentives for providers have had tremendous impact on the landscape of electronic health records. As EHR software matures, interoperability and ease of access, improved patient portals, and a move toward cloud-based solutions are going to be some of the biggest trends in electronic health records.
One of the key features of electronic health records is ease of access. Ideally, both providers and patients will be able to utilize EHR software in ways that maximize access to information and create smoother workflows. That also extends to full interoperability between systems.
Ideally, practitioners will be able to quickly share information with other healthcare providers inside and outside their organizations, streamlining care for patients, and making sure that practitioners have full access to health records at all times. Improved interoperability also has long-term benefits outside of individual patient interactions. For example, researchers could use pools of patient records to identify trends, or use of the large datasets that improved EHR software interoperability would provide for large scale real-world studies of treatment outcomes.
Along with interoperability comes the need for improved patient access to their own electronic health records. The United States Congress enacted regulations in 2009 to provide financial incentives to encourage adoption of EHR software, and HIPAA regulations also require that electronic health records also allow for patient access to stored data. According to a 2015 report, the number of people accessing their electronic health records via a patient portal is on the rise. In 2014, 38 percent of Americans had access to their health information, an increase of more than 33 percent over the previous year. Of those patients who had access, more than half—55 percent—had accessed information contained in their medical record. Clearly, the trend is toward improving and increasing patient access to personal medical information via continued development and improvement of EHR software.
Like most other modern technologies, the shift toward mobile devices is also playing a key role in shaping EHR software. Consumers are more comfortable using mobile devices, which makes cloud or mobile EHR more important for practitioners and EHR software providers.
But there are also many upsides to cloud EHR solutions for healthcare providers, including reduced costs, better scalability and improved data security. Without the need for large onsite IT departments to manage software and hardware, cloud EHR software allows healthcare providers of all sizes to focus resources on patient care, which is in the best interests of providers and patients alike.
Healthcare is changing, and electronic health records will continue to be a driving force in the evolution of the industry. We’ve already seen some of the tremendous benefits that EHR can provide, and look forward to the innovations in EHR software that will empower healthcare providers to offer better, more streamlined care to their patients.
About The Author
Bob Murry joined NextGen Healthcare in July, 2012. Before his promotion to Chief Medical Information Officer (CMIO) in May, 2017, Dr. Murry was the company’s Vice President of Clinical Product Management, responsible for clinical oversight and workflow design. Dr. Murry’s added responsibilities as CMIO include “Voice-of-the-Physician” across specialties, product safety, and government/regulatory affairs.
Dr. Murry is also the Medical Director of Ambulatory Informatics at Hunterdon Medical Center in New Jersey and practices Family Medicine at Delaware Valley Family Health Center and Hunterdon Medical Center. He is Board Certified in Clinical Informatics by the American Board of Preventive Medicine and Board Certified in Family Medicine by the American Board of Family Medicine.
Dr. Murry holds an MD from The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas; a PhD in Physical Chemistry from Boston College; and an MA in Physical Chemistry from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.