While EHRs are increasingly essential for healthcare providers, their efficacy can be constricted by the nature of their design, their use and the interpretation of data.
Jerry Buchanan, Program Manager and Scrum Master at eMids Technologies, Inc., an IT and BPO consulting company, weighs in on some features that are missing from EHRs:
1. Information, not data
While EHRs hold data, that's not the same as holding information, Buchanan notes. Data needs to be converted into relevant information to be of practical use. However, there's also the possibility that EHRs can get overloaded with information. The goal, Buchanan says, is technology that organizes data in a way that assists healthcare providers most efficiently and effectively in making clinical decisions. This includes EHRs capable of providing alerts and alarms about patient conditions, given to caregivers in real time.
2. Comprehensive health history
Buchanan says that clinical data is usually entered into an EHR after a health episode. He notes that a history of recorded episodes is not the same as an overview of someone's health history. Some health systems are beginning to change this feature, propelled by the needs of chronic disease management, Buchanan says. Ultimately, it may be the standard for all patients.
3. Information tailored for various users
Who is the audience for the EHR's information? Buchanan says information is most useful when it matches the needs of various recipients. For example, a cardiologist, a primary care physician and a nurse might have different needs when it comes to the type of information and the level of detail they seek about a patient. Ideally, an EHR would be configured to the needs of the individual end-user.
4. Tracking the transition of care
Appropriate patient care is not static -- it must flow from one caregiver to another, from one facility to another. An EHR works better for a patient if it includes features that track tasks -- such as giving medications, monitoring conditions and administering medical tests -- to completion, and then reassigns them, if necessary.
5. Patient-side management of information
Buchanan says the ultimate EHR would give the patient -- the consumer -- the ability to manage just what health-related information (HRI) is available to which practitioners.
What features do you feel are missing from your EHR? Leave your comments below.