EHR for chiropractic can benefit from the strides made by Google and Apple to made data more accessible and share between doctors and organizations
The implementation of electronic health record (EHR) systems has provided chiropractic offices a number of benefits. They’ve enabled easier access to all of a patient’s data from anywhere in the office (whether at the front desk or in the treatment rooms), reduced the need for large record storage rooms, and they also offer patients the convenience of accessing their own medical information, setting up their next appointment, and corresponding with office staff.
This aside, one question that some health professionals is asking is whether it’s time to drop the ‘E’ in EHR for chiropractic and expand the data that health records keep, hopefully reducing some of the current limitations that exist with today’s electronic records systems.
Current EHR for chiropractic limitations
In an article published in Risk Management and Healthcare Policy, researchers from the University of Alabama indicate that there are many research-supported drawbacks of EHRs. Among them are:
- Elevated acquisition costs
- Continued costs for necessary EHR maintenance
- Lower productivity while trying to learn the new EHR system
- Patient concerns about privacy with electronic records
Another potential limitation of EHRs is that they may not be comprehensive enough. Namely, while these software-based programs may be adequate for recording a patient’s medical information and family history, they fail to note other information about the patient that can impact his or her health, or share records.
Social and physical determinants of health
The Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion indicates that there are a number of social factors that can potentially contribute to a person’s health status. Options regarding education and work, exposure to discrimination or crime, and available transportation in the area can all affect someone’s quality of life and current health status.
The Office of Disease Prevention also states that there are certain physical determinants that could either improve or harm a person’s health status as well. They include climate, school and work settings, home environment, and exposure to toxins.
Thus, if a patient’s health record does not provide this type of information, it becomes more difficult to identify the exact issues that could be contributing to them having poorer health, whether now or in the future.
While it may be impossible to capture every single factor that could potentially be impacting a patient’s health in an EHR for chiropractic, some technology giants are working to close this gap by creating more comprehensive recordkeeping software. One of those giants is Apple.
Apple pushes for advances in health record system technology
Recognizing the need for patients to have access to all of their medical records, Apple created a Health app that not only allows patients access to their records with one office, but with other medical care facilities as well. This gives them a better overall view of their total health based on data collected by each healthcare professional they are treating with.
Healthcare IT News reports that several medical facilities are already on board with this app and they come from all areas of the country. These include Cedars-Sinai (Los Angeles), Johns Hopkins (Baltimore), Rush University Medical Center (Chicago), Ochsner Health System (Louisiana), Cerner Healthe Clinic (Kansas City), and Geisinger Health System (Pennsylvania).
Apple’s Health app utilizes HL7’s Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR) specifications, which are a standardized set of terms or conditions for programs to follow when sharing health information electronically. These specifications address issues related to privacy, linked data, diagnostics, workflow, and more.
Currently, the Health app is available to U.S. health care institutions only and requires that practitioners first contact their individual EHR to learn more about the steps necessary to effectively register their practices with Apple for inclusion in the app.
EHRs and AI
Another advancement that could make health records more comprehensive in the future involves the use of AI, or artificial intelligence.
For instance, Google has revealed that it is working to create AI that is able to take information from an EHR and use it to help answer basic questions patients may have, potentially reducing the need to contact the health care professional directly in an attempt to find answers. The hope is that this type of AI will reduce the draw on health care providers’ time while still providing patients the answers they seek to basic questions.
Google is also working to improve voice and touch technology that can be used with EHR with the hopes of helping practitioners update patients’ records quicker and with more ease.