Digital technology has revolutionized the delivery of medical care, and the role of EHRs in digitizing health care is continually growing in importance. The adoption of EHR systems has been driven by the need to deliver better outcomes, improve patient experience and keep costs under control.
Influence of EHRs in Digitizing Health Care
In less than eight years, the delivery of health services in the U.S. has undergone a massive transformation in the area of record keeping. In 2009, most health care providers used paper-based systems almost exclusively. Less than 10 percent of hospitals and 17 percent of doctors were using electronic records.
Following the introduction of the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act that year, hospitals, physicians and other health service providers began a rapid changeover to electronic systems. By the end of 2015, 96 percent of non-federal acute care hospitals and 78 percent of doctors had deployed EHRs.1
Certified EHR Systems
While the role of EHRs in digitizing health care has been substantial, there is still a need for further improvement. Many health care providers are still using basic EHR systems. While these bring undeniable benefits over paper-based systems, they do not provide the broad functionality of certified EHR systems.
Certified systems are on track to become even more important. Health care providers will need to introduce certified systems if they want to qualify for the incentives in place under MIPS and APMs. These will be the only payment models supported by Medicare from 2019 onward. Commercial payers are also keen to move away from pay-per-procedure models to incentive-based ones.
The role of EHRs in digitizing health care has lead to increased financial rewards for health service providers. By streamlining the services provided, productivity levels have increased. Clinical staff can allocate more time to delivering health care rather than administrative tasks. EHRs also speed up payment processing by reducing errors and automating procedures.
The growing importance of EHRs in digitizing health care has led to dramatic improvements in the quality of the EHR platforms available. As recently as 2013, 93 percent of physicians surveyed expressed dissatisfaction with EHR systems and vendors. Just three years later, 84 percent of doctors and other health care professionals believed their EHR vendors had met or exceeded expectations.2
Benefits of Scalable EHR Systems
Cost may have been one of the most significant factors for those health care providers who have been slow to adopt certified EHRs. Smaller practices did not have the financial resources to invest in systems that were designed for larger enterprises.
Today, EHR providers like Integrity Support can make highly functional EHR systems available for as little as $100 per month. Systems based on cloud technology ensure there is no need for practices to make large investments in IT infrastructure and software, and there is no need to have technology support staff on site.
These cloud-based systems can be accessed from desktop computers and mobile devices at any time and from any location. As the practice grows, more users can be seamlessly added without any expensive reconfiguration requirements. Adoption of EHR technology automatically results in improved quality of care.