The Benefits of Electronic Health Records

Topics: Health Information Governance | Optimizing for Electronic Medical Records Transition

Now that all 50 states have some form of health information exchange services available to support the coordination of care, the benefits of electronic health records for healthcare providers are in process of being fully realized. With the widespread adoption of the electronic health record, providers are able to obtain more comprehensive, accurate, and up-to-date information about patients at the point of care.

According to a report from the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, half of the nation's hospitals are able to electronically search for patient information from sources beyond their organization or health system, and the exchange of data outside their system has risen more than 50 percent in recent years. These exchanges enable access for efficient patient care by securely sharing electronic information with patients and other healthcare providers. The ultimate goal is to accurately diagnose patients, reduce medical errors and provide safer care.

It is now expected that an electronic healthcare system can enable better care and improve communication, transparency and the rapid translation of knowledge for patients and providers. For the first time, there could be a potential reduction in the burden of data collection and reporting for providers through an interoperable infrastructure.

Achieving the benefits of the electronic health records is possible through the implementation of best practices into standards; these best practices support decision-making and quality processes that allow for data capture and the reuse of medical information. The standardization of health and clinical information enables improved data flow for patient care; and timely and precise interoperable decisions provide support for patients and providers alike.

More accurate patient outcome measures that support analysis can be compared across differing venues and providers. Analytical tools can be used to collect and leverage existing data for multiple quality improvement reporting programs. Aggregating claims and clinical data can enable reporting to public and private payers - and provide comprehensive feedback to all.

Individual patients' data can also be provided to patients and care providers in a secure manner. A 2014 report to Congress from the Department of Health and Human Services shows that providing patients with access to their clinical information empowers them to better manage their own health. Data created during the normal course of care and collected in standard formats can be transformed into knowledge in real time to inform clinical decisions, report on notifiable conditions or events, measure quality of care and provide evidence for patient-centered outcome research.

This actionable feedback allows the provider, care team, and patient/individual to improve patient care, and transform the care delivery system.

Do you have questions about health information management? Read additional Knowledge Center stories on this subject, or contact Iron Mountain's Information Management team. You'll be connected with a knowledgeable product and services specialist who can address your specific challenges.