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Electronic Health Records Frequently Asked Questions

 

Table of Contents

What are Electronic Health Records (EHRs)?

What are the benefits of EHRs?

What are the factors that are driving the need for EHRs in hospitals and physician practices?

How do I start an initiative to develop and implement an EHR strategy?

How can I get EHR product information and compare EHR products?

Why do I need to analyze and improve processes as part of an EHR initiative?

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What are Electronic Health Records (EHRs)?

A high-level introduction to Electronic Health Records appears on the EHR Overview Home page.

The following articles on the EHR Introductory Articles page provide basic EHR information:

EHR vs. CPR vs. EMR

Key Capabilities of an Electronic Health Record System

The ABCs of CPRs and EMRs

The following articles on the EHR Reports page provide more in-depth EHR information:

Electronic Health Record Definition, Scope, and Context

HIMSS Electronic Health Record Definitional Model v1-0

HL7 EHR System Functional Model: A Major Development Towards Consensus on Electronic Health Record System Functionality - White Paper

The following links on the EHR Links Home page provide basic and some in-depth EHR information:

EHR Mind Map: A Comprehensive Resource Guide

Electronic Medical Records - basic info

HL7 Electronic Health Record Functional Model and Standard

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What are the benefits of EHRs?

The ehrCentral Home page lists basic benefits of implementing EHRs.

The following articles on the EHR Introductory Articles page discuss the benefits of EHRs:

Ambulatory EMR - Establishing a Business Case

Are EMRs Right for Your Practice

Electronic Medical Records: Why Their Time Has Come

How Benefits Can Outweigh Costs of Electronic Records

Physicians Improve Quality of Care, Save Valuable Time, and Increase Reimbursements through EMR System


The Need for Electronic Medical Records in Primary Care

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What are the factors that are driving the need for EHRs in hospitals and physician practices?

According to the Medical Records Institute’s Sixth Annual Survey of Electronic Health Record Trends and Usage for 2004, the following factors, in priority order, are driving the need for Electronic Health Records in hospitals and physician practices:

Hospitals   Physician Practices
Share patient information among health care practitioners and professionals   Improve clinical processes or workflow efficiency
Improve clinical processes or workflow efficiency   Improve quality of care
Reduce medical errors (improve patient safety)   Improve clinical documentation to support appropriate billing service levels
Improve quality of care   Share patient information among health care practitioners and professionals
Facilitate clinical decision support   Reduce medical errors (improve patient safety)
Improve clinical data capture   Provide access to patient records at remote locations
Provide access to patient records at remote locations   Improve clinical data capture
Improve clinical documentation to support appropriate billing service levels   Establish a more efficient and effective information infrastructure as a competitive advantage
Meet the requirements of legal, regulatory, or accreditation standards   Contain or reduce healthcare delivery costs
Contain or reduce healthcare delivery costs   Meet the requirements of legal, regulatory, or accreditation standards
Establish a more efficient and effective information infrastructure as a competitive advantage   Facilitate clinical decision support

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How do I start an initiative to develop and implement an EHR strategy?

If you do not already have some knowledge about EHRs and their implementation, browse the

EHR Introductory Articles

EHR Case Study Articles

EHR Implementation Articles

pages and read the articles of interest to you. Also, consider reading one or more of the books listed on the EHR Bibliography page.

To succeed:

An EHR initiative must focus on the people and the processes involved in delivering the healthcare services, while using technology as the enabler, the resource that makes it possible to perform the tasks, activities, or processes.

An EHR strategy needs to be developed prior to embarking on the EHR implementation. Change Management must be part of the strategy since moving to an EHR environment is all about change (see EHR
Transformation Home page).

The project teams throughout the duration of the initiative, even in smaller healthcare provider environments, need to have full-time or part-time dedicated personnel assigned to the initiative who will accurately address the three areas of: people, process, and technology. If the healthcare organization does not have expertise in all of these areas, appropriate independent consultants should be hired (see the EHR Consultant Firms Links page for some suggestions) or pertinent consulting services should be purchased from an EHR product vendor (see the EHR Products & Services Links page) to assist with relevant portions of the initiative, including total project management.
 

The EHR Overview page outlines the Typical Phases of an EHR Implementation.

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How can I get EHR product information and compare EHR products?

The following articles on the EHR Implementation Articles page discuss EHR product selection as well as some details about the vendors and the products:

2003 EMR Survey Summary Report

2004 EMR Survey Summary Report

CPRs in the Winner's Circle

Evaluating and Selecting Electronic Medical Record Systems

Getting an EMR Up and Running

Herding Cats: The Challenges of EMR Vendor Selection

How to Select a Computer System for a Family Physician's Office

Industry Awards for EMR Systems

Small-Practice EMRs

The links on the EHR Products & Services Links page provide information about specific EHR products.

The following links on the EHR Links Home page provide EHR product comparisons and information tools:

Ambulatory EMR Selector

American Academy of Family Physicians' Practice Management Computerization

CTS Medical Software Selection

Digital Physician

Electronic Medical Records (EMR) Comparisons By Physicians for Physicians

KLAS Enterprises

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Why do I need to analyze and improve processes as part of an EHR initiative?

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition defines process as:

A series of actions, changes, or functions bringing about a result: the process of digestion; the process of obtaining a driver's license.

According to Dr. H. James Harrington, who is a recognized world leader in applying performance improvement methodologies to business processes and an author of Business Process Improvement and Business Process Improvement Workbook:

"Automating a bad process not only ensures that we can do a bad job every time, but that we can do it faster and with less effort than before".

The late Dr. W. Edwards Deming, an international guru on quality and productivity management, made the following statement in his classic work Out of the Crisis:

"Improving processes is the only way to improve quality".

At the beginning stages of an EHR initiative, it is essential to analyze the clinical and business processes used by a healthcare organization to determine what needs to stay the same and what needs to change to improve work flow and the effectiveness of the organization. Process analysis and improvement must be an integral part of the EHR strategy and implementation otherwise the organization will not achieve their goals for creating a more effective and profitable environment.

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