First Line Software is a premier provider of software engineering, software enablement, and digital transformation services. Headquartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the global staff of 400 technical experts serve clients across North America, Europe, Asia, and Australia.
Before electronic health records were available, everything a doctor did for a patient was written down on paper. Somebody had to call or fax the information if another facility needed it. How long it took to get it depended on how quickly the other organization could get it to the doctor. The slower the data transaction, the more likely it was to harm patient care.
The 2009 HITECH Act made it easier for hospitals and other healthcare organizations to use electronic health records (EHRs) and exchange health information. This exchange of information makes it easier for patients to get the care they need because their health information is more readily available. The better the data quality, the better the insights that can be gleaned from it, leading to healthier people.
Even though electronic health records have made it easier to access data, healthcare organizations still need the plan to share data in a way that builds trust with patients and confidence with clinical care teams. One way to do this is by extending the electronic health record to other healthcare providers. This way, healthcare providers can work together to get a complete view of patients and provide better care.
EHR extensions present clinical and experiential advantages
Making sure patients and providers can easily find the information they need is very important, and EHR extensions are a great way to do that. When a patient visits multiple specialists, clinics, or hospitals that use the same EHR platform, providers can see all of the patient’s clinical data in one place. This way, providers will know what kind of care the patient has received from other providers and can give better care. This builds trust between the patient and provider, which strengthens the relationship.
The way a patient responds to treatment and the results of their care is important to healthcare systems. An EHR system ensures that everyone involved in a patient’s care can access accurate and up-to-date information, making it easier to provide the best possible care. When a patient is referred to another healthcare provider within the same network, the care team can look at the patient’s EHR to track their progress and ensure a positive outcome.
EHR extensions allow providers easy access to a patient’s notes, results, and diagnoses, reducing the need for duplicate testing. This also makes it easier for patients to transition between care providers and reduces the likelihood of readmission. Seeing all of the patient’s clinical activity lets providers identify missing information and close gaps in care, which improves quality and clinical outcomes for the patient.
How do you prepare for an EHR extension?
Suppose you want to start using an EHR for an affiliated organization. In that case, it’s the beginning of a process that could improve patient outcomes, make your EHR investment more efficient, and make care teams and patients closer.
This is an important decision with many responsibilities. When a healthcare organization gives another organization access to its electronic health records, it becomes responsible for that organization, similarly to how a vendor would be responsible. The affiliate organization trusts the host organization, so the host organization needs to know how important this responsibility is.
To have a lasting relationship, it is beneficial for both organizations to have a clear understanding of what the agreement entails and each organization’s responsibilities. This means creating new policies and procedures that work for both the host and affiliate organization and creating compelling user workflows for both parties. Additionally, establishing shared governance between the host and affiliate will allow concerns to be raised and addressed meaningfully, continuing to strengthen the partnership.
Organizations partnering up with each other must also understand their role in the relationship. They might need to realize how much work goes into making a successful EHR extension, and they need to be prepared to keep supplying resources for a long time. In the past, they had a system that was only used by a few people and could be changed easily whenever someone needed something different. But now, any changes to the system need to be looked at by everyone who will be using it, to make sure that it will work for them and that it fits in with the way that everyone else is doing things.
Focus on people
We need to be careful about introducing the new system to employees and provide extra education and help if people start needing help with using it. We must continuously improve, and we may need to put in extra effort to get the full benefits from the new system. We can determine if people need more help by looking at how often they’re using the new features, and satisfaction surveys can tell us if people are happy with the new system or if we need to make changes.
To increase the quality of care and make it easier to access data, you need to plan carefully and work closely with other organizations. By sharing data and building trust between organizations, you can make a big difference for clinicians and patients. The most important result is a better user experience and improved clinical outcomes.