Healthcare News & Insights

EHRs in rural areas have huge impact on improved patient care

There’s new evidence that EHRs significantly improve overall care in rural areas by allowing health care providers to work with more patients in the same amount of time.

EHR systems are also of particular use in improving overall health in poorer communities or in areas with high levels of chronic disease.

Case in point: The Othello, Washington-based Columbia Basin Health Association (CBHA) was an early adopter of EHRs and used the system to monitor roughly 1300 diabetic patients to see if they received recommended exams.

The EHRs also allowed typically overloaded staffers at rural facilities to minimize time spent on administrative tasks so they could focus on co-ordinating patient care, follow-up services, etc.

Within a year, EHRs helped CBHA improve exam rates significantly: The number of patients getting foot exams increased from 31% to 86%; eye exams jumped from 37% to 63%.

In other populations, using data from EHRs allowed CBHA to decrease the number of no-shows for dental appointments, and eventually fill all available appointment times. Bottom line: CBHA was more efficient, and more patients got better care.

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