Healthcare News & Insights

EHR

EHR_Image_HealthExecNewsThe integration of digital technologies into every facet of life, from personal applications to professional use, has made a significant impact on the way we connect, share, store, and interact with data. In the healthcare industry, one of the most important integrations of digital technologies has been through the development of emergency health records (EHR). Electronic health records (EHR) give entire networks of care providers the ability to digitally store and access an individual’s health-related information.

Distinguishing Between EHR and EMR

One of the most common misconceptions about this and related medical technologies is that electronic health records (EHR) are the same as electronic medical records (EMR). While the two are indeed very similar in terms of their ability to store information on a patient, there is one distinct difference that sets them apart.

EHRs play a more advanced role in storing, sharing, and organizing patient health information, as it has the ability to do so over a variety of care provider networks. Unlike EHR, the electronic medical record is limited to one single healthcare organization that has access to and manages the file.

The ability for more than one physician or organization to access a patient’s files comes with many benefits. EHRs build a comprehensive patient record that spans the history of their treatments and diagnoses in their entirety. EHR gives patients and their doctors the ability to share their medical information with all of the physicians and specialists that they deal with over a lifetime of care, spanning across all healthcare institutions, so that all those involved in a patient’s care can have access to the information they need without any hassle.

Advantages of Electronic Health Records (EHR)

In the past, each patient had a record created specifically for each and every individual procedure and each new medical appointment that was scheduled. However, this proved to be an inefficient system, as throughout patients’ lifetime, they would accumulate multiple records across a variety of health networks and caregivers, covering general check-ups, pharmacy visits, and physician specialists. Over time, managing all of these files became overwhelming; patients wasted time filling out the same information and medical history at each visit, updates and new information could not be easily transferred between physicians, and caregivers had limited access to important information from other healthcare providers.

When electronic health records (EHR) were introduced to the industry, patients had all of their information available for use at all of their physician’s offices, and it was stored electronically in one location that allowed for better integration throughout all medical networks. EHR allows medical information to be viewed and updated in real-time by all participating doctors and specialists, leaving little to no delay in patient care due to insufficient information. Patients no longer have to worry about filling out extensive paperwork for each appointment, waiting around for file transfers, or the accuracy of their records. EHR software gives the healthcare industry a more efficient method of storing and maintaining all patient information.

Incentives for Integrating EHR into Medical Practices

The U.S. government designed the Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Program to provide incentive payments to eligible professionals, hospitals, and critical access hospitals that demonstrate “meaningful use” of certified EHR technology. Though the two programs differ somewhat in terms of the amount of reimbursements and eligibility criteria, they both were designed to help further integrate the use of electronic health records throughout the healthcare industry.

According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid, the maximum reimbursement amounts are as follows:

Medicare: Eligible professionals can receive up to $44,000 over five years. And, for eligible professionals who provide services in a “Health Professional Shortage Area” there’s an option for additional incentive payments.

Medicaid: Eligible professionals can receive up to $63,750 over the six years that they choose to participate in the program.

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