EHR companies are already breaking new ground in patient communications and AI-like functions
Electronic health records (EHRs) have been around for some time now, and health care providers are familiar with how they work and the benefits they provide. However, as with any other forms of technology, EHRs as we know them today are likely to go through a number of changes in the years ahead as advances continue to be made in this field.
Here are a few that are likely to be experienced in 2019 and beyond.
Increased patient engagement via apps
In 2018, iOS and Android users downloaded a total of 194 billion apps according to Business of Apps, an increase of 16 billion in just one year’s time.
Additionally, while social media and communication apps are downloaded the most often, health and fitness apps are in the top 10 worldwide based on consumer spend. This highlights the fact that individuals want to be more engaged in managing and tracking their health.
EHRs are interacting more seamlessly with these apps, and patients are already starting to access their most current health care information from their phones, giving them the data they need to make positive lifestyle choices and more informed medical care decisions.
Use of ‘big data’ to better understand major health shifts
‘Big data’ refers to taking massive sets of data and analyzing them to reveal major trends or patterns in behavior and actions. In the future, it’s likely that EHRs will take a greater role in this process, which can have massive consequences.
For instance, research published in the April 2018 edition of the European Heart Journal indicates that high volumes of EHR data “have the potential to improve our understanding of disease causation and classification relevant for early translation and to contribute actionable analytics to improve health and health care.” This could, in the not-so-far future, even lead to predicting certain individuals’ ailments before they occur, taking into consideration family history and other data sets.
The study’s authors also warn that there are some challenges to overcome with regard to EHR-related contributions to big data. Among them are data quality, ethical and legal considerations, developing industry-wide standards, and gaining public trust.
Greater AI integration
AI (artificial intelligence) is becoming more commonplace today as computer programmers develop complex networks and systems capable of imitating, predicting, and reacting to human thoughts and actions.
Along the same lines, EHR systems are now being developed by EHR companies to utilize this technology, enabling health care providers to simplify workflows and provide a higher-quality patient experience.
Harvard Business Review shares that the growing AI capabilities relative to EHRs and EHR companies include:
- Being able to extract data from clinical notes, an action that can help increase productivity and uncover valuable insights;
- Using algorithms to better predict, thus diagnose, major health issues that patients may be at higher risk of developing;
- Enabling health care providers to capture notes verbally, reducing the amount of time spent interacting with the computer and increasing patient interaction instead;
- Enhanced decision support based on new data, allowing for more individualized patient care.
As a health care provider, there is a huge reliance on the patient’s ability to accurately and comprehensively recall and recount their entire health and medical records. In some cases, if one small piece of information is left out, it may change their diagnosis and/or treatment recommendations.
A blockchain is a growing list of records, called blocks, that are linked using cryptography. Each block contains a cryptographic hash of the previous block, a timestamp, and transaction data, by design making it secure and resistant to modification.
Healthcare IT News indicates that blockchain can help resolve patient record issues in the future by creating a complete health record that patients can give providers access to, enabling them to see every “block” in the patient’s chain of health care services, adding to it as they go.
This means no more asking intake questions or trying to update patient records off the information they’re able to recall. With blockchain, it’s all right there and accessible to your patient’s entire healthcare team. Healthcare IT adds that using blockchain further offers patients a type of medical record that cannot be accessed by unauthorized individuals or held ransom by hackers, like the WannaCry ransomware attack that occurred in early 2017.
This attack initially targeted the U.K.’s health care system, but soon spread across more than 150 countries within hours. In that time, it not only shut down various healthcare agencies, but it also hit banks, telecommunication companies, and more. Tech Crunch states that this type of attack is still a concern two years later since an estimated 1.7 million databases and devices remain vulnerable. Whereas, use of blockchain can close this loophole and keep it from happening again in the future.
Electronic health records and EHR companies are constantly evolving, and big data, AI and blockchain are only a few of the technologies bringing us a future that was not long ago only in the dreams of science fiction writers.