The adoption of electronic health records (EHRs) has been rapidly growing in the United States over the past few years. According to the Center for Disease Control, 89.9 percent of office-based physicians rely on an EHR system.
While there are many benefits to using EHRs, what stands out is the ability to collect and track patient data more efficiently. This allows healthcare professionals to make better decisions about patient care and treatment. In this article, we will discuss how you can use EHR to streamline your patient data collection process.
Table of Contents
- The Problem With Patient Intake Forms
- What Are the Benefits of Using Electronic Health Records?
- Top EHR Features that Streamline Healthcare
- Why You Should Integrate Fill With Your EHR System
The Problem With Patient Intake Forms
A couple of decades back clinics, medical offices, and hospitals relied on paper-based patient intake. Busy receptionists would usually just give out a thick bunch of forms instead of interviewing the patient to get personal information. This would include the patient’s name, address, phone number, insurance details, allergies, medical history, and current medications.
After the patients had filled out the forms, they would return them to the receptionist. These handwritten forms would either be filed as is or typed into a more permanent system.
There were several disadvantages to using paper forms during patient intake:
- It was time-consuming. A patient can take a quarter of an hour to write down all the necessary information. Plus, it may take days before that information can be filed or typed.
- Errors were common. Patients often forgot details or misspelled pharmaceutical and medical terms. And if the receptionist made a mistake when typing the information, it could be difficult to fix.
- It was not very efficient. The forms often get lost or misplaced. It was also difficult to find specific files amidst the mountains of paperwork.
- The forms were often illegible. This made it difficult for physicians to understand what their patients were trying to say. This old-fashioned method of patient intake often caused frustration and delays in care.
What Are the Benefits of Using Electronic Health Records?
A major initiative in the US is to encourage the use of EHRs by physicians and medical staff. The goal is to improve the quality of care and reduce costs by making it easier to share information among healthcare providers.
Since these patient records are digital, you can store them on a computer or save them to the cloud. Authorized users can access them from any location provided they have a stable internet connection.
Electronic records have many advantages over paper records. They allow medical staff to:
Share information easily
EHR systems are designed to be interoperable, meaning they can easily send and receive data from other systems. These systems often include features that make it easy to find and share specific information with other healthcare providers.
For example, most EHR systems allow users to send information via secure email or messaging or to share information via a secure portal for HIPAA compliance. Concerned about data privacy? EHR software typically has robust security features that protect patient data from unauthorized access.
Access patient records remotely
This is a huge benefit for practices that have multiple locations and doctors who need to access records while away from the office. With an EHR system, all of the practice’s data is stored in a centralized database. This makes it easy to pull up records from any computer with an Internet connection.
Additionally, EHR systems typically come with mobile applications that allow users to access records on their smartphones or tablets. This is valuable during emergencies when first responders may need medical information fast.
Automate data entry and search
One way EHRs save time is by reducing the need to re-enter data. Previously, a doctor had to painstakingly write down all of the details on paper records after each visit. They also had to manually sign hundreds of charts and forms each day while doing rounds and consults.
With EHRs, most of this process can be automated. In addition, EHRs make it easier to find specific information using keywords or filters. It only takes seconds to search for a term and make decisions about patient care. In contrast, providers using paper-based health records have to search through numerous files to find what they are looking for.
When providers enter data into the system, they can often do so with drop-down menus or prepopulated fields. This reduces the chances of errors due to incorrect spelling or sloppy transcription. Moreover, EHRs often have built-in checks that flag potential errors, duplicate entries, or conflicting information.
EHR systems use online forms, which are less likely to have errors as they can be filled out by patients before a visit. Physicians can autofill or prepopulate selected fields on digital forms. In addition, EHR forms can be instantly updated if changes need to be made.
Improve the quality of care
EHRs can help ensure that patients receive the best care for their particular condition. If a patient with diabetes is due for a blood test, the EHR system will generate a reminder for the provider. This can help ensure the patient receives the necessary care on time.
In addition, EHR systems can help providers avoid prescribing unnecessary or potentially harmful treatments. If a provider attempts to prescribe a medication that’s not on the approved list, the EHR system will alert the provider and suggest an alternative drug.
Finally, EHR systems can help providers track and measure quality indicators such as mortality rates and readmission rates. This allows providers to identify areas where care could be improved.
Top EHR Features that Streamline Healthcare
Several EHR features can help expedite not just patient intake but the overall workflow of healthcare professionals. Here are five of the most noteworthy:
1. Electronic prescription
EHRs can help streamline the process of prescribing medication for patients. It can also reduce errors and ensure that patients receive the correct medication. For instance, doctors no longer have to write down or type in the name and dosage of medications during prescription renewal. Instead, they can choose from drop-down options or checklists.
2. Patient portal
A patient portal can give patients 24/7 access to medical records, appointments, and test results. This transparency can improve communication between patients and their healthcare providers.
3. Clinical decision support
When a patient arrives at the hospital, the first thing their EHR should do is prompt the care team to check for preexisting conditions like allergies or prescription medication that may interact with other drugs. By ensuring that these are taken into account from the very beginning of treatment, healthcare staff can avoid potentially life-threatening mistakes.
4. Imaging integration
This can streamline the process of reviewing and interpreting diagnostic images. This is important because it helps prevent duplicate testing, provides easy access to images for reviewing diagnoses, and aids in tracking patient progress.
For example, imagine a scenario where a provider is trying to review a patient’s MRI results. Without imaging integration, the provider would need to contact the radiologist who originally interpreted the MRI, wait for them to provide the images, and then review the images themselves.
However, with imaging integration, the images would be stored electronically within the EHR and quickly accessed by the provider.
5. Public health management
This feature of EHRs can help hospitals support population health management initiatives, specifically by identifying and tracking widespread medical issues. For example, the EHR system can be used to track immunization rates or outbreak control. It can also be used to support research initiatives by providing data for epidemiological studies.
Why You Should Integrate Fill Into Your EHR System
The healthcare industry has long been struggling with the inefficiency of paper-based medical records and related processes. Printed patient records can be damaged, stolen, or misplaced. This not only creates a burden for staff but can also lead to errors and delays in care.
If you plan to use an EHR system, the mentioned features above are worth considering. In addition, if you want to streamline your workflow, you can even integrate online forms and esignature features. It’s not that complicated.
That’s where the Fill app comes in. The use of online forms has helped make patient data collection more accurate and efficient. With online forms, patients can enter key information fast. Only authorized healthcare professionals can access that data on the Fill app dashboard.
Choose from an extensive library of healthcare templates for medical prescriptions, medical records release forms, patient transfer forms, and guardian consent forms. With these prebuilt forms, you can avoid making mistakes when drafting important documents. Patients can also sign these documents online, which saves time for both patients and staff.
All these features can be integrated into your EHR system. Thanks to Fill’s API integration, your in-house IT team can deploy it according to your organization’s needs.
To know more about other benefits related to the use of medical documents, check out the Fill app and try it for free.