Electronic health records (EHRs) have many benefits, including increased efficiency, the possibility of receiving incentive payments, better patient flow, and many others.
One benefit that often gets overlooked is the positive impact an EHR system can have on patient care—providers can more easily share information, patients can access information more easily, and patient information is immediately available.1
Perhaps one of the biggest advantages of EHRs is the fact that systems are designed to be interoperable. Chiropractic care has long been considered “alternative” care, and though that is changing, some medical professionals still may leave DCs out of the loop of patient care. With EHRs, patients’ medical records are accessible, giving the DC more information.2
For example, X-rays and MRIs are part of a patient’s record and can help the DC determine the most appropriate treatment plan. Having access to such images can also reduce costs and save time.
DCs who provide nutritional counseling benefit from seeing what medications have been prescribed, as well as any allergies or sensitivities the patient may have. Understanding your patients’ medical histories and current treatments can have an immediate and positive impact patient outcomes.
In the same way, your treatment plan may become a tool for any other care providers the patient sees. Medical doctors and other providers will be able access the chiropractic treatment plan and progress.
Although access and security worries go hand in hand, the certification program operated by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) provides peace of mind regarding security. If a piece of software has been certified by the ONC, it has been rigorously tested and found to meet stringent security criteria.
When patients have access to their own medical records, they are empowered. If you have recommended that a patient do a particular set of stretches, for example, they may be more likely to do them if they understand how it can help. In fact, one study found that 80 percent of patients who had access to their medical information used it to help manage their own health.3
When you have immediate access to your notes from previous visits, as well as results of your treatment plan over time, you can make better-informed decisions during each appointment.
EHRs allow for up-to-the minute access of information, and having all of the information related to each patients’ conditions and treatments in hand allows you to see a fuller picture of their health. You can more easily follow up with the patient, finding out what worked and what didn’t from the last visit, which in turn allows you to adjust the treatment plan.
While some may be put off by the up-front expenses that come with implementing a new system, in the end the benefits outweigh the costs. Improved patient outcomes can lead to improved patient retention, and better patient flow means a more efficient and profitable practice.
1 Health IT. “Benefits of Electronic Health Records (EHRs).” HealthIT.gov. http://www.healthit.gov/providers-professionals/benefits-electronic-health-records-ehrs. Updated March 2015. Accessed May 2015.
2 Health IT. “Patient Participation.” HealthIT.gov. http://www.healthit.gov/providers-professionals/patient-participation. Updated March 2014. Accessed May 2015.
3 National Partnership for Women & Families. “Making IT Meaningful: How Consumers Value and Trust Health IT.” NationalPartnership.org. http://www.nationalpartnership.org/issues/health/HIT/making-it-meaningful.html. Published February 2012. Accessed May 2015.