What are Electronic Health Records (EHRs)?
The Electronic Health Record (EHR) is a longitudinal systematic collection of electronic health information for a patient generated by one or more interactions in any care setting.
This digitally-stored information should be shareable across different healthcare settings in order to follow patients wherever they go – to the specialist, the hospital, the nursing home, or even across the country.
An EHR typically includes information such as:
- Patient demographics
- Medical history
- Medications and allergies
- Immunisation status
- Laboratory test results
- Radiology images
- Vital signs
- Personal statistics like age and weight
- Progress notes and problem details
- Billing information
The Electronic Medical Record (EMR) is a term often used interchangeably with EHR but there exist certain differences between them. EMR specifically refers to the digitised version of the paper chart in clinician offices, clinics, and hospitals.
The EMR contains notes and information collected by and for the clinicians in that specific office, clinic, or hospital setting and is mostly used by providers for diagnosis and treatment.
The information in the EMR is usually part of the EHR and hence, may be described as a component of the EHR.
The term Personal Health Record (PHR) is also frequently used, and refers to EHRs that are designed to be set up, accessed, managed and controlled by patients in a private, secure and confidential environment. They usually contain health information generated by clinicians, home-based monitoring devices, and patients themselves.
How are EHRs / EMRs used within digital health?
The EHR provides a comprehensive view of a patient’s health status, since it incorporates the patient’s history, as well as input from all providers who have access to the record.
Unlike the limitations of the secluded paper record, EHRs / EMRs optimise patient care by providing a number of benefits, including:
- Allowing healthcare providers to track EHR / EMR data over time
- Identifying patients who are due for screenings or visits
- Monitoring progress by measuring against specified parameters
- Improving quality of care through use of clinical tools
- Facilitating care coordination among multiple providers
- Optimising transition of care between settings
- Improving prevention efforts through better access to test results
- Enhancing the ability to identify missing patient information
- Offering evidence-based recommendations for preventive care
- Flagging potentially dangerous drug interactions
- Verifying appropriateness of medications and dosages
- Reducing the need for redundant or unnecessary tests and procedures
Current Market and Industry Trends of the EHR / EMR
The global market for electronic health records (EHR) is estimated to reach $22.3 billion by the end of 2015, with the North American market projected to account for $10.1 billion or 47 percent, according to research released by Accenture.
According to another report from BCC Research, the combined global market for EHR-compatible wireless patient monitoring devices, mobile EHR software, and EHR mobile technologies will reach $23.5 billion by 2018 from an estimated $11.2 billion in 2013 at a CAGR of 16.1 percent.
The major factors driving the adoption of the EHR / EMR include:
- Government initiatives and financial support
- Mandatory adoption of Meaningful Use requirements in the U.S.
- Pressure to cut healthcare costs
- Growing demand to integrate healthcare systems
- Strong return on investment for EHR systems
- Population health management initiatives
- Growing demand for computerised phyisician order entry (CPOE) adoption to reduce medication errors
- Rise in incidences of chronic disorders
Barriers to EHR / EMR adoption include:
- High start-up costs
- High maintenance costs
- Deficiencies in software quality and functionality
- Lack of semantic interoperability of health care data
- Lack of progress in countries where governments do not offer incentives
- Lack of financial incentives for office-based physicians
- Lack of standardisation in healthcare protocols
- Incompatible legacy systems related to ancillary applications
- Competing priorities in healthcare organisations for resources
- Inconsistent ROI and difficulties in quantifying financial benefits
- Provider resistance to adopting new practices
One of the first and most foundational aspects of digital health, the EHR / EMR has been established in many settings for a number of years.
As this important digital health field continues to evolve, we’ll see continued improvements in interoperability to optimize the exchange of vital healthcare information across a variety of platforms and providers to ensure that patients get the best care possible - regardless of setting.
- Healthcare IT News
- European Institute for Health Records
- Electronic Health Records Best Practices - Medical Economics
- HSRIC: Privacy/Security and Research with Electronic Health Records
- EHR Product Select & Implement - Health IT Guides - AAFP
- HIMSS Analytics
- HIMSS Europe
- HIMSS Asia Pacific
- HIMSS Innovation Center
- HIMSS Interoperability Showcase
- Healthcare Finance News
- Government Health IT
- Medical Practice Insider
- HIMSS Conference
- The US Health Resources and Services Administration
- Fierce Health IT
- Healthcare Information Technology Standards Panel
- Health IT Security
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