Healthcare News & Insights

EHRs & secure messaging boost patient safety

There’s more research showing that electronic health records (EHR) systems and healthcare IT upgrades help keep hospital patients safe.

87463237 (1)A recent multi-year research project looked at patient safety rates in hospitals throughout the state of Pennsylvania that were using EHRs. Distinction was made between facilities that had “basic” EHRs, only storing clinical data or applying predefined rules to patient data, and “advanced” EHRs, which had functions such as computerized provider order entry and coordinated physician documentation.

The result: Facilities with advanced EHRs reported 27% fewer safety problems overall. Medication errors went down by 30%, and complications from procedures and tests that compromised patient safety went down by 25%.

Why advanced EHRs help

Researchers cited a number of factors that likely contributed to improvements in patient safety rates. One of the most significant was the potential for higher accuracy when entering details about patient medications and conditions.

Because hospitals achieved the best results with EHRs that had advanced features, this research serves as a further indication that one size doesn’t fit all when it comes to selecting an EHR for your hospital.

Facilities can provide the best care quality to their patients with the help of an advanced, comprehensive EHR that not only has capabilities for detailed provider documentation and medication orders, but can transfer information easily to other healthcare providers to improve care coordination upon discharge.

Other systems count

If you’re considering an EHR upgrade for your hospital in light of these findings and other similar research, you might also want to talk with IT about upgrading other systems used for information exchange in your hospital, including the use of pagers to communicate with clinical staff.

Inefficient communication methods like these can also have negative effects on patient safety, according to a study from Frost & Sullivan discussed on iHealthBeat. Any communication delays caused by relaying changes in a patient’s condition via outdated methods could cause irreparable harm.

Some facilities have had success with replacing pagers with encrypted smartphones or tablets that can send and receive secure text messages, images and videos. This allows clinicians to communicate with each other in real time during critical situations where every second counts.

These mobile devices should be compatible with your hospital’s EHR and IT infrastructure, which is why it’s a good idea to consider these changes while making adjustments to your EHR and not after the fact.

Implementing an advanced EHR along with a secure messaging system clinicians can access via mobile devices could not only improve patient safety, it could boost efficiency with patient care and streamline day-to-day operations, which will have a positive effect on your facility’s bottom line.

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