More primary care physicians (PCPs) and healthcare providers are using Electronic Health Records (EHRs) and Electronic Medical Records (EMRs) than ever before. With the many anticipated changes in healthcare including value-based care and incentive payments related to health information technology growth in EMR/EHR use is expected to continue. There is a slight, but significant difference between EMR and EHR. Both are digital versions of the paper charts in the clinician’s office, hospital or other care settings, and each contains the medical and treatment history of patients. However, EHRs have the unique added feature of going beyond standard collected clinical data by providing a more comprehensive view of patient care. EHRs are designed to integrate information beyond the health organization to include other health care providers, such as laboratories and specialists, as well as referrals and assessments for social services and home care.
PCPs and other health care providers can benefit greatly from EHRs that track data over time, screen for vaccinations, identify patients due for preventive screenings or routine follow-up, monitor risks and care plans, as well as improve the overall quality of patient care. EHRs can easily share medical information among stakeholders, including family members and care givers helping with care for aging adults. Practices and health systems can use EHRs to take advantage of various Chronic Care Management (CCM) and Transitional Care Management (TCM) programs and services. EHRs are important for safely transferring hospitalized or institutionalized patients with complex chronic conditions in a timely manner from one level of care to another or from one type of care setting to another.
Older adults often have multiple medications they are managing along with other concerns such as physical therapy and home care, for example. EHRs can offer e-prescribing that allows physicians to prescribe and monitor medications reducing potential risks of misinterpretation. As a tool, they can help monitor for drug interaction and allergy checking to alert clinicians if a medication they are prescribing could cause a problem.
Optimal management of care coordination and care transitions includes patient and family education, communication among healthcare professionals and arrangement of care in the post-acute care setting. EHRs can document and facilitate chronic care and transitional care plans. Care Managers can use EHRs that incorporates comprehensive discharge planning, post-discharge telephone outreach, home visits, patient-centered discharge instructions, follow-up with a primary care provider, and medication reconciliation.
Health information technology like EHRs provide timely and seamless transfer of information between providers and health care settings compared with traditional paper forms and record keeping. EHRs can hold entire health profiles that include conversational and other notes important to care decision-making that may not be found in a traditional electronic medical records or charts. CCM and TCM care teams can work with PCPs and other health care providers in implementing the right health information technology and EHR for better managing older adults with complex conditions.
Written by Joseph F. West, ScD on Wednesday, 14 December 2016. Posted in Health Information Technology, EMR, EHR, TCM, CCM