In the early 1960s, hospitals implemented the first Electronic Health Record systems, and the world of healthcare changed forever. Designed to take the place of paper-based data consolidation, EHRs quickly became a mainstay for hospitals and practices everywhere, offering a more streamlined and efficient process for record-keeping. And with Grand View Research valuing the global EHR market at a staggering amount of $28.1 billion in 2022, it’s clear that EHRs are not going anywhere any time soon.
But with these systems here to stay, many PALTC professionals are wondering what the future will look like for the industry of electronic health records.
To better understand the future of EHRs, one must recognize the present trends and past issues of these systems. Because as the industry evolves, so do the systems we use. This constant evolution results in new, emerging trends that change the way we utilize our EHR systems to enhance patient experience and overall practice efficiency. But with every new change, there’s always a new source of conflict as EHRs in practices everywhere struggled to keep up with the surge in care during the Covid-19 virus. This led to prominent pain points being recognized in these systems, such as documentation issues and a lack of interoperability with other systems.
For this article, we’ll take a look at the prospective future of EHRs, emerging trends, and prominent issues within current systems.
Current EHR Pain Points
Even though EHRs are lessening the workload of PALTC professionals, there is still room to improve. Current EHRs are struggling with documentation issues involving risk-based management codes along with the use of modifiers and alterations. In addition to these issues, physicians are noticing a sharp decrease in time spent with their patients due to the time required to input data. These are just two of the most significant issues PALTC practices are facing with their EHR systems.
But how do these issues occur? And better yet, how can you avoid them?
Most physicians find trouble with their EHRs due to a lack of interoperability with their other systems. In an interview with AMA, David Bronson, MD and a general internist for the Cleveland Clinic foundation, stated that “Interoperable systems [are] the lynchpin of this whole system,” Bronson later went on to say that until interoperability is achieved, EHRs will continue to provide a low return on investment. But in order to achieve this, practices must recognize current EHR trends to stay ahead of the curve. Which brings us to…
Emerging EHR Trends
As EHRs became a mainstay in the world of health care, many PALTC professionals began utilizing their systems in various ways. This resulted in multiple trends arising as EHRs evolved and improved. Currently, Electronic Health Record systems are being used and implemented in ways that no one could have predicted. For example, not only are these systems acting as data and record management tools but they are also being utilized as Enterprise Resource Programs (ERPs) for optimal interoperability among other systems.
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg!
Many PALTC practices are solving in-house challenges, such as staff shortages and data inaccuracy, with trends like cloud computing and Robotic Process Automation (RPA). According to Mercer’s report on the U.S. healthcare labor market, staff shortages are one of the most prominent issues facing medical practices in the wake of Covid-19, with New York and California predicted to lose over 500,000 medical professionals by 2026. This drastic drop is forcing many PALTC practices to incorporate cloud computing into their organizations to outsource any administrative burden or clinical services like medical billing. In addition to cloud computing, more and more practices are implementing Robotic Process Automation to solve any EHR issues without redesigning the system’s entire core. These RPAs help practices avoid manual data entry without a loss of accuracy through automation.
With these trends, EHRs are constantly evolving to meet the growing needs and demands of PALTC practices. For further information on emerging trends in the PALTC industry, check out our RCM post here.
The Future of Electronic Health Records
In the coming years, EHRs are expected to grow exponentially as practices begin to adjust to new standards and requirements brought on by Covid-19. During the pandemic, practices were able to spot common pain points and issues within their EHRs and revolutionize how they use their systems. Services such as Telehealth and real-time data and analytics were utilized over the pandemic to enhance Electronic Health Record systems during a time of struggle. Studies show that Telehealth services will become a mainstay for practices everywhere as the newly appointed Omnibus bill is set to extend these services for another two years. Not only will this result in EHRs integrating with Telehealth services, but it will allow physicians to pass and share patient information from one system to the next seamlessly.
Another change on the horizon for EHRs is the use of automated systems to deliver real-time data and analytics. As healthcare facilities grow, so does the amount of data and information they accumulate. This often leads to data being misplaced or lost altogether, not to mention that it directly impacts the accuracy of the information. By automating their EHR systems, PALTC practices can organize and consolidate their patient data effectively and efficiently, limiting the amount of data inconsistencies.
Keep in mind these are just two of the biggest changes set to affect the future of EHRs. As these systems develop and evolve over time, more and more alterations will be made to how we utilize these systems to our advantage.
Future of Electronic Health Records Wrapped-Up
With the industry changing every day, it can be hard to stay ahead of all the current trends and changes. This not only goes for EHR systems but for all post-acute care solutions. To move toward the future, you must analyze the current issues you have with your EHR, and if there are any trends you could use to solve these problems. Whether it’s utilizing an automated or just integrating Telehealth services into your practice, it’s crucial to stay well-informed and up-to-date with the world of Electronic Health Records.
For more information on EHRs, check out our very own PacEHR™ Electronic Health Records system here.