Complications May Be to Blame for Some EHR Miscommunications, Perhaps Even in the Dallas Ebola Case

John Backhouse
John Backhouse

Guest post by John Backhouse, executive director of the Omni Program, Information Builders.

Patient data resides in many systems and in multiple locations, which requires adept coordination and collaboration to deliver quality healthcare. However, sometimes pertinent data slips through the cracks – as demonstrated at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas.

Dr. Daniel Vargi of Texas Health Resources explained the breakdown in EHR miscommunication in a recent CNN interview: “While we had all of the elements of information that were critical to understand a potential diagnosis of Ebola, the way we built them into our clinical process – not only the process of gathering the information but then communicating the information between caregivers – was not as front-of-mind as it should have been.”

This gap in information sharing needs to be bridged, especially to mitigate risk when dealing with significant diseases such as Ebola. It is critical that healthcare systems obtain a 360-degree view of patients, and achieve EHR interoperability.

Providers wrestle with EHR technology to enter patient information that is often never reconciled with patient history or existing data on countless other data sources including ancillary services, and other healthcare organization’s electronic medical record (EMR) system.

The HITECH Act (2009) initiated governmental incentives and penalties designed to nudge healthcare to adopt certified EHR technology for better patient outcomes. As of 2013, 59 percent of acute care hospitals (non-federal) have adopted at least a basic EHR system with clinician noted.

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