The rise of electronic medical health records (EHR) can be compared to the healthcare industry’s version of digital transformation in the way hospitals, doctors, and clinics are able to digitize their daily activities and track patient health and medical care over time. The benefits are tremendous in the form of keeping track of patient care, which is especially important for patients with severe and chronic health issues. Although, there are benefits for all types of patients including alerts for when patients are due for preventative visits and the ability to easily reference past health concerns, such as blood pressure readings, weight, and medication lists.
There is no other industry where the move from paper to digital is more important, and equally more cumbersome, than in the medical field. In older generations, the notion of “faxing” medical information from one party to another, thereby saving days of transportation time over snail mail, was thought of as a “transformational” breakthrough. And yet, while shortening record transfers from, “about a week’s time,” down to “within the hour,” certainly saved lives and improved communications across medical professionals, this alone did not create transformational change between the patient and their team of doctors. Records needed to be consolidated, allowing for significant gaps of history due to missing charts, then read and understood by the physicians. There was significant room for human error.
We now stand at the steps of the digital transformation age, where information processing happens faster and more efficiently, yet we can also identify healthcare diagnostic changes that are transformational in nature.
At the heart of this digital evolution is analytics. Analytics are what identify areas for improvement and opportunity. This is especially important when the resulting insights can dictate actions and anticipate outcomes based on standard of care. Analytics are helping to drive better patient outcomes and even identify situations where recurrence and readmission can be reduced and eliminated. This is the premise upon which modern, American healthcare standards are based. The overall outcome for the patient and the reported quality of care they received can help dictate the amount of care reimbursement for their treatment. The better quality of care, the higher the reimbursement.
EHRs’ greatest gift to healthcare is the improved quality of care for patients through better decision making and coordinated care between multiple providers. EHRs, and as a result, analytics of patient data and experience, are at the apex of measuring best practices and providing quality care. It’s exciting to think about what’s possible when health care providers have access to the right data, such as:
- More complete information about patient health, both inside and outside of individual office visits;
- Faster lab results leading to more efficient treatment;
- Improved patient outcomes and reduced risk through better diagnosis;
- Treatment of the patient with a “customer” mentality through routine check ins, follow up’s, and scheduling of future appointments;
- Allowing patients to take responsibility for their healthcare due to access to their health history;
- Lower healthcare costs due to outcome-based and standard-of-care decision-making;
- And for the practice itself, reduced transcription costs, chart storage savings, improved reimbursement coding and improved scheduling systems.
By adding analytics to the Electronic Healthcare Record mix, we can see increased patient responsibility and improved patient outcomes based on standard of care, all while helping to control the rise in healthcare costs. Yet, this is truly just the beginning of healthcare digital transformation. With the introduction of sensor data, the Internet of Things and even more devices into hospitals and physician offices, we will continue to see the effects of data, analytics, and predictive analytics improve the patient experience.
Jeff Morris is the vice president of Data Monetization Strategy & Success at GoodData. Previously, Jeff worked for over a decade as the VP of Product Marketing at Actuate. At Actuate, he leveraged his open-source product management experience at Sendmail and development platform expertise from Forte Software in the 90s and IDE in the late 80s, to help position ActuateOne as a premier, modern information application platform for tackling the current explosion of data sources, cloud services, and mobile consumption devices that are dominating today’s technology headlines. Jeff studied electrical engineering and history at Syracuse University.