The universal adoption of electronic health records has the potential to improve the industry of healthcare by bettering the quality of care and driving down costs. The EHR Incentive Program implemented by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) doles out payments to providers who use EHRs in their practice while working to achieve Meaningful Use.
However, using EHRs has started to change the role doctors and other providers play in the healthcare setting. Researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health found that digital tools may decrease the future demand for physicians. The results, published in the medical journal Health Affairs, detail how patient interaction with new innovations in healthcare technology may reshape the industry as a whole.
Going fully digital
According to their study, the researchers reported that more than 70 percent of physicians are using EHRs in their practices. They believe that as more providers adopt digital storage of health data, the potential of healthcare interactions and management to be conducted electronically increases as well.
The increased usage of Web-based applications and smartphones by patients has led to a need for secure sharing of health information. Being able to cater to these innovations can help practices improve their revenue cycle management and bolster efficiency and productivity.
Accessing a patient's EHR can give physicians a view of the bigger picture of that individual's health. The ability to see consistently updated and current health information allows providers to properly administer care strategies and treatments, bettering patient health with critical real-time data.
Finding better practices
The emergence of this healthcare technology can have a positive impact on care plans for patients. Growing systems, such as telemedicine and secure health information exchange, could allow 12 percent of care to be administered remotely between providers and their patients. This may benefit the issue of doctor shortages in certain regions of the country. Conversely, being able to delegate certain care practices to registered nurses and other healthcare staff may decrease the demand for physicians by roughly 6 percent in the future.
Yet the rise of EHR software may allow physicians to learn more about new modalities of care. This information can also be shared with other providers, allowing them to find out which treatment or medicine works the best, and which is the most financially suitable choice for their practice.
Coinciding with improving care practices, using electronic records can make providers more accessible to their patients. The passing of the Affordable Care Act means that more Americans will be signing up for health insurance. Now, more than ever, physicians will need to be able to treat their patients swiftly and effectively. EHRs have the ability to grant providers speedy access to the needs of their patients and also facilitates better communication between patients and their doctors.
In order to improve their practices' efficiency, physicians and other healthcare providers should maintain consistent communication with their EHR vendors to ensure real-time capabilities for updating patient records. In the next few years, the increased adoption of electronic health histories may change the face of healthcare and the role of physicians in the industry.