The rapid expansion of technological innovation has been keenly felt in the medical field. Healthcare providers now enjoy the benefits of new surgical tools, dedicated medical PCs, and high-end devices that make diagnosing and treating patients much more effective.

This trend goes well beyond hardware. Electronic health records (EHR) have rapidly become a staple of the industry, and use of EHR software has jumped exponentially in just a short amount of time. Estimates by the Office of the National Coordinator for health information technology (ONC) maintain that over 98% of large hospitals and over 96% of critical access facilities used EHR software by 2015. The future is here, and anyone working in the medical profession needs to be familiar with EHR software in order to do their jobs.

The benefits of EHR are considerable, not only for doctors and other medical personnel, but for the patients they treat. EHRs also entail a number of problems, however, both with the software itself and with the way it is implemented in existing medical computers. Overcoming those problems is key to achieving the enormous potential of EHR software.

The Benefits of EHR

Using EHR contains a nearly limitless array of potential benefits, grouped into a few specific categories:

More Effective Care:

EHR software allows patient data to be transmitted instantly to the point of care, regardless of location or complexity of the data. According to studies by the ONC, 94% of healthcare providers reported that EHR made it easier to access records at point of care. That, in turn, increases the speed with which physicians can diagnose and treat conditions – literally saving lives in some cases. In addition, such access allows for comprehensive analysis of the patient’s condition, and can automatically flag things like conflicting medication prescriptions and earlier medical procedures that may complicate the treatment currently being considered. Of course, this is only possible with a medical computer that possesses to processing power and connectivity necessary to run the EMR software properly.

Elimination of Paper Records:

Paper records were essential to the medical field for many years, but they also created a host of issues which can’t be readily eliminated. Physical files are bulky and take up a lot of space, which most hospitals could better use on other things. Clerical errors are common, which can lead to inaccurate records and misdiagnoses, as well as billing mistakes.

Other factors such as bad handwriting can cause even more problems – to say nothing of money spent on paper and ink, which can add up to a surprising amount – and even if a given record is 100% accurate, accessing it can be a supremely difficult prospect. EHRs cut that Gordian knot by providing clarity and accuracy in the files, as well as eliminating the need to store all of that paperwork.

Improved Communications Between Physicians:

Patients are rarely under the care of a single physician or even a single healthcare facility. Consultations can involve other physicians in different locations, sometimes on the other side of the country.  Medical labs and specialty care facilities must be consulted, and in many cases, even a simple prescription requires communication between the physician and the pharmacy.

That can lead to confusion, long delays and even errors in medication. EHR software used in conjunction with the right medical-grade computer can eliminate those errors, and improve communication between physicians. Indeed, one recent survey from the National Institute of Health estimates that processing a prescription drug order through an EHR system reduced the frequency of errors by 47%. That kind of improved speed and accuracy cannot help but benefit patients.

Outpatient care, empowering home caregivers:

Not all healthcare is administered at a hospital or other medical facility. Quite often, patients are discharged where they receive continued outpatient care from home. Home caregivers can use a modern medical tablet to access patient files, record vital signs, and even check to see if medications are being taken according to the doctor’s orders. All of this can be recorded in real time and updated in the EHR record making patient care more efficient and more accurate, freeing up valuable resources.

Potential Problems

Those benefits have the ability to permanently change the way a given organization provides medical services. As with any new system, however, issues are bound to crop up: creating frustration in healthcare workers and blunting the advantages that an EHR can provide. Such problems can include the following:

Interoperability:

In order for EHR software to work, it needs to link different systems together. Information in one facility’s computers can’t always be ported to another’s. Medical monitors with a 4:3 ratio won’t be able to properly read software designed for a 16:9 ratio, and authentication and security measures in a given system can make accessing the proper data a monumental chore.

A certified medical computer is essential in this regard: providing interoperability for the EHR software to function as intended and ensuring that the staff can access the records swiftly.

Extended time involved:

Learning curves for EHR software can be steep, which means physicians need to spend a lot of time working with it instead of treating their patients. A recent study from the Annals of Family Medicine estimated that physicians spend almost 2 hours of time on EHR for every hour they spend with patients.

Charting at a patient’s bedside using a medical cart computer can help cut down on additional time spent doing administrative work, allowing physicians more time with patients and less time doing data entry.

Financial barriers:

Medical facilities must use their financial resources wisely. Integrating medical computer systems with new EHR software can be expensive and time-consuming – even a small practice can pay hundreds of thousands of dollars a year for it, according to the National Institute of Health – which can lead to staggered or delayed implementation and a lot of confusion.

Certified medical hardware can be a lifesaver, especially computers with a long lifecycle to help you avoid constant upgrades and changes to your IT network.

 

With the right system in place, the functionality of EHR software can be enhanced and common problems can be minimized or even eliminated. Cybernet’s line of medical computers includes a number EHR certified models and can streamline the process of integrating and using EHR software in your facility. Contact us here to learn more!

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