EHR systems for hospitals in 2021

Overview: Why Are Electronic Medical Records Important?

Electronic medical records are essentially the digital equivalent of hard copy data files containing a patient’s medical history and their treatment at the clinic over the course of visits.  A patient’s EMR is a collection of data accumulated over time by the medical practice, such as a patient’s medical history, medications, allergies, radiology images, administrative and billing data, treatment plans and laboratory results,  and is referred to by the doctor at the time of visitation. However, as opposed to an EHR, this information remains within the hospital or clinic setting and cannot be shared outside.

The EMR technology has become indispensable for healthcare organizations and Primary care providers for a number of reasons. Firstly, it offers health care providers information in formats that was hitherto impossible with paper charts. Doctors can view graphs of values such as weight, cholesterol levels, and blood pressure, and keep tabs on drastic changes to achieve chronic disease management, prevention, and screening targets. For instance, EMR systems send reminders to providers when certain prevention and screening maneuvers are due or out of date. Not to mention, EMR systems also provide physicians with important practice-level information which is useful for interventions such as identifying patients who have not received mammograms.

Secondly, EMRs can significantly reduce errors in medical practices. Previously, illegible handwriting was one of the major culprits of medical errors. With the introduction of EMRs, writing is no longer a concern. Similarly, manually inputting a patient’s data in files can lead to errors and inadvertent omissions. On the other hand, pre-designed EMR templates, whether for general practice encounters with patients or for use in a specialty, make sure that only the correct and comprehensive patient information is being inputted. Not to mention, a patient may see many physicians during the course of their hospital stay, and disparate patient data may lead to medication error or duplication of lab tests. The ability to access accurate, up-to-date, and complete information about patients at the point of care and quickly transfer updated patient data from one department to the next is a huge asset in healthcare organizations. In a nutshell, EMR systems increase patient safety through reduction in medical errors.

Most importantly, EMR systems improve the quality of patient care as well as guarantee patient safety by enabling quick access to patient records. For instance, doctors can quickly access each patient’s history at the tap of a button, helping to recognize patterns, predict diagnosis and recommend potential treatment options. Before prescribing a medicine, doctors can check if a patient was already given the same medicine from another doctor or if there are any contraindications. Complete, timely, accurate medical recordkeeping ensures that patients get the right care at the right time.

Last but not the least, implementing EMR systems increase productivity for physicians. EMR systems can speed up appointments and office visits without sacrificing a patient-centered approach, resulting in improved patient flow and patient volume.  When physicians have quick, easy access to patient records, they save time that would otherwise be spent locating paper charts, or manually entering information into patient records. Increased accuracy and faster transmission of data leads to improved workflows from patient copy collection at the front desk to billing and reimbursement on the backend of the practice.

Do Hospitals Use EHR or EMR?

To answer this question, let’s first understand the main difference between the two.

An electronic medical record is a digital equivalent of a patient’s paper chart. An EMR contains a patient’s medical history, previous and current medications, diagnoses, immunization dates, allergies, and more. An EMR hospital information system is accessible by a single practice and is primarily used for diagnosis and treatment. EMRs help primary care physicians track patient data over time and look out for any drastic changes, identify which patients are due for preventive screenings or checkups, and check how their patients are doing on certain parameters—such as blood pressure readings or vaccinations. However, the main drawback of an EMR is that it cannot be shared with other practices, hospitals, pharmacies, etc. So essentially, if you are referring a patient to see a specialist, such as an endocrinologist, from another medical facility, you would need to share information with the specialist, but since the EMR is only designed to be used within one practice, your staff would probably need to print out the patient’s chart and send them manually. In that regard, EMRs are not much better than a paper record.

On the other hand, EHRs offer a more holistic view of patient health—going beyond standard clinical data collected in the provider’s office and inclusive of a broader view on a patient’s care. As opposed to an EMR, an Electronic Health Record accumulates data from all the clinicians involved in a patient’s care, across more than one healthcare organization. In fact, EHR data is even shared with secondary health care providers, such as laboratories and pharmacies, so that all patient information is stored on a single platform.  As an all-inclusive patient record, EHR goes wherever the patient goes and gets shared by healthcare providers. EHR data also informs emergency departments about a patient’s life threatening allergy or list of ongoing medical conditions, so that care can be adjusted appropriately, even if the patient is unconscious. EHR data can also be accessed by the patients themselves to provide a more patient-centric care and keep patients involved in their healthcare journeys. 

As the healthcare industry shifts towards value-based care, EHRs with HL7 Specifications have taken over EMR hospital systems for tracking patients across the care continuum. A majority of hospitals use EHR over EMR to support quality improvement, monitor patient safety, measure organization performance, identify high risk patients, develop an approach to query for patient data, and create individual provider profiles. Telemedicine software for providers can also be linked to EHR. Modules such as clinical decision support systems, patient portals, and E-prescriptions further add to the popularity of EHRs. 

What Is The Hospital EHR Market Share?

Electronic Health Record (EHR) Market size is set to surpass USD 46 billion by 2027, far exceeding hospital EMR market share. 

What EHR systems are used in hospitals?

As of 2021, 96 percent of United States hospitals are using certified EHR technology. Enterprise EHR vendors such as epic EMR hospital system and Cerner continue to dominate the industry year over year, but small and specialty vendors are emerging on the market. Crunching the numbers, Epic maintains nearly one-third (31 percent) of the EHR market share, followed by Cerner at 25 percent, Meditech at 16 percent and Allscripts at 5 percent. In addition, GE Centricity, NextGen, Indian Health Service, Greenway Health, athenahealth and Netsmart Technologies are also noteworthy contenders. While bigger hospitals continue to implement advanced EHR systems like those offered by Epic and Cerner, 80 percent of critical access and rural hospitals reported using at least a basic EHR system. 

What Is The EHR Implementation Process For Hospitals?

EHR implementation is the process of planning and carrying out the integration of EHR software and components in a healthcare organization, a process takes careful consideration. Here are the steps to a successful EHR implementation. 

Build your EHR implementation team

Before you decide to implement an EHR, you need to build a strong team to see things through. Gather your strongest physicians, nurses, administrative staff and medical assistants to identify risks and challenges as well as educate their co-workers on the best ways to use EHR. 

Requirement Gathering

Each healthcare facility is unique and so are its needs. You need to evaluate which features and functionality your practice requires in an EHR. Once you have identified the list of requirements, you can start looking for a suitable vendor. At this point, make sure to submit Requests for Information (RFI) and Request for Proposals (RFP) to prospective vendors for Healthcare application development.

Transfer Data

Once your EHR is ready for implementation, you need to start transferring data to from your previous record system to the new system. Make sure that correct and complete information is uploaded to the new EHR. To ensure a smooth and hassle-free transfer, make sure to prepare a checklist of data to be inputted into the system. This would you make sure that you are not missing out on any critical data. 

Employee Training

A lot of healthcare organizations may want to leave this process as an afterthought, but in essence, a lack of staff training can interfere with daily operations down the road. First things first, you need to communicate with staff members to make sure the new system has everything that they need to perform at their jobs, and conduct training sessions to make sure that all stakeholders know how to utilize the EHR properly. Active employee engagement and participation is the key to a successful implementation. 

Testing the EHR

Once the EHR system is in place, it need to be put through stringent testing to ensure data tables and files are loading properly, data collected are processed and store correctly, the system interfaces work as intended, and the workflows have been adjusted appropriately. Also you need to make sure that the EHR is sending alerts and responding correctly to situations, the generating reports accurately and completely and the security system is also checked to ensure it is correct. Healthcare compliance consulting firms can also help you make sure that your EHR system is HIPAA compliant. 

What is the EHR implementation timeline for hospitals?

Once you have chosen your healthcare software solution, set out the time line and milestones. Implementations typically take 16 to 24 months, include targets for each phase. Make them measurable and obtainable, incorporating every phase, from design to Go-Live.

EHR incentive programs for hospitals

According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS ), Doctors of medicine or osteopath,  Doctors of dental surgery or dental medicine, Doctors of optometry, and Doctors of podiatry are eligible for the Medicare EHR Incentive Programs, as well as eligible hospitals, such as those falling under Subsection (d) in the 50 states or Washington D.C. that are paid under the Inpatient Prospective Payment System (IPPS, Critical Access Hospitals (CAHs, and Medicare Advantage Hospitals.

As per the Medicare Electronic Health Record (EHR) Incentive Program, payments are broken down into three phases. The Initial Amount is the sum of a base amount and a discharge-related amount. The base amount is $2,000,000, and the discharge-related amount provides an additional $200 for each acute care hospital discharge during a payment year. 

During the second step, the EHR provider calculates the medical share of hospital payment for a meaningful user of certified EHR technology. This medical share is determined with the use of this formula:

# of IP Part A Bed Days + # of IP Part C Days Total IP Bed Days x [ Total Charges – Charges Attributable to Charity Care Total Charges ] IP=inpatient

In the third step, the program uses a formula to determine the incentive payment to an eligible hospital for a payment year is the Transition Factor.

What EHR systems are Available for small hospitals?

For small sized hospitals and healthcare facilities, there EHR systems prove to be the best:

  • Athenaheath EHR Software.
  • AdvancedMD.
  • drchrono EMR Software.
  • Practice Fusion EHR Software.
  • Kareo Clinical EHR Software.
  • eClinicalWorks EHR Software.
  • PrognoCIS EHR Software.
  • ChartLogic EHR Suite

What is the impact of EHR systems in hospitals?

The biggest benefit of implementing EHR systems is that they provide clinical alerts and reminders, improve aggregation, analysis, and communication of patient information, make it easier to consider all aspects of a patient’s condition, supporting diagnostic and therapeutic decision making, and reduce medical errors. 

Top benefits to implement epic EMR hospital system?

EPIC EMR hospital list is growing by the day, thanks to the numerous benefits afforded by the EPIC EMR system, such as:

  • Thousands of 3rd party apps to fit all the needs of your practice.
  • Cloud hosting
  • Integrates easily with Epic’s Practice Management solution.
  • Interoperability
  • Improving patient care coordination, reducing risks through standardized workflows, and offering better provider-to-patient communication.

FAQs

What are EHR systems designed for?

An Electronic Health Record (EHR) is an electronic version of a patient’s medical history, that is maintained by the provider over time, and used to store and share updated medical information of patients.

What are the most common EHR?

Epic holds the lion’s share of the market at 34%.

In the hospital, do we use an EMR or a EHR?

A majority of hospitals use EHR over EMR to support quality improvement, monitor patient safety, measure organization performance, identify high risk patients, develop an approach to query for patient data, and create individual provider profiles.

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