Tag: electronic health records

The Future of 3D Printing and Health Data

By Brooke Faulkner

Brooke Faulkner

Medical innovators can’t come up with ways to implement 3D printing into categories of healthcare fast enough. With so many practical applications, 3D printing is quickly becoming a technology realized for its untapped potential and seemingly limitless possibility to transform healthcare.

3D printing alone has many applications across a wide range of industries — for one example, advancements in health data are benefiting nursing and patient care. As 3D printing continues to be combined with the innovations in health data, it will further revolutionize patient care, lower healthcare costs, expand the field of nursing, and improve modern medicine as we know it. How will 3D printing and health data do this?

Below is an extensive look at how innovations in health data are changing healthcare fields, and how 3D printing will further reform these sectors, allowing for advancements in both medical practice and patient care.

Home Healthcare

Home healthcare benefits patients who would like personal care in the comfort of their own home. Elderly and disabled patients don’t have to travel to have minor care done, and patients who have such diseases as HIV and are worried about discrimination or bias can have their privacy. Home-based care allows for specialized care for the patient, rehabilitation, and the close monitoring of vital signs for health and wellness, without the trouble of an in-person office visit. This convenient transfer of data through new technology makes it increasingly easier for caregivers, whether it be family members or professionals, to care for patients on their terms.

Telemedicine

ASU reports, “75.2 percent of nurses agree that telemedicine makes their job easier.” Telemedicine is another sector of healthcare made possible by the accessibility of telecommunication technologies such as videoconferencing. Through videoconferencing, a professional is able to listen to a patient’s concerns and diagnose illness or injury from a remote location. This gives the patient another level of privacy and both parties freedom and independence. Telemedicine cuts healthcare costs, as a physician doesn’t need to physically travel to a patient every time a minor checkup is needed.

EHRs and CPOEs

Electronic health records, or EHRs, are just that: electronic patient health documents that provide real-time information. Medical history, treatments, and diagnoses can be constantly updated along with other details such as allergies and current medications. An infographic by Duquesne University highlights the increased reliance on EHRs while illustrating patient data in the age of technology.

CPOEs, or computerized provider/physician order entries, are a better way to order medication and control the dosage and frequency at which the medication is administered. This efficient method of ordering pharmaceuticals reduces error and abuse, and therefore diminishes illness and injury. As Scott Rupp writes, CPOEs are “foundational for meaningful use. Make sure it’s easy to use and intuitive.”

Involvement of 3D Printing

In its infant stages, 3D printing is being utilized to make hearing aids, prosthesis, skin for burn victim patients, heart and airway splints, and much more. Showing potential for almost every aspect of healthcare, 3D printing, combined with the innovations in health data above, will transform these fields for even more accessible, affordable, and convenient healthcare.

3D printing can be applied to home health care, telecommunications, EHRs and CPOE in a number of ways. A professional can diagnose the atrophy of a leg, order the rehabilitation of walking, 3D print a prosthetic, and monitor the progress all while a patient is at home. In another instance, home healthcare and telemedicine can diagnose that a patient is ill, EHRs and CPOEs will allow for a better determination of what medication to order, and 3D printing can be used to print the medication for a patient

More accessible healthcare means more easily affordable healthcare, and with the involvement of 3D printing home-based care, telemedicine, EHRs, and CPOEs, healthcare will be transformed and turned on its ear. Patients who desire privacy, or are not mobile, will be able to get the care they need at home, while professionals will be able to stay in the office to help people with more immediate and urgent matters.

As mentioned above, 3D printing is in its infancy stages for many of these processes. An argument can be made that 3D printing will make home care, telemedicine, EHRs, and CPOEs more expensive — and that’s true, but only for now. As 3D printing becomes more of a norm in the medical field, and it will with its promising applications, the cost will decrease. As 3D printing becomes a normal process in these fields, it will increase patient care and make healthcare more accessible and more easily affordable.

EHRs Haven’t Necessarily Reduced Paper (Yet), And What Needs to Be Done About It

Guest post by Chris Click, senior healthcare solutions manager, Nuance (Imaging Division).

Chris Click
Chris Click

Many hospitals and healthcare organizations say they’re committed to moving to a paperless or paper-light environment. Greater document digitization is key to a more seamless flow of information within the healthcare enterprise, increasing worker productivity and reducing costs while also enhancing patient data security and ultimately improving quality of care.

Electronic health records (EHRs) are viewed as a foundational component of this strategy. In 2016, more than 95 percent of all eligible and critical access hospitals demonstrated meaningful use of certified health IT including EHRs, according to Health IT Dashboard. The conventional wisdom would lead some to expect subsequent decline in paper usage, but quite the opposite is happening.

Studies have shown that despite the growing adoption of EHRs and other digital technologies, paper in the healthcare enterprise remains prevalent – and is even growing. Experts say hospitals are seeing as much as an 11 percent increase in their annual print volumes driven by the Meaningful Use program, the Affordable Care Act, ICD-10, and the adoption of electronic record-keeping.

Why is this happening? Sometimes we find that physicians to not yet fully trust EHRs. Approximately 27 percent of a doctor’s time is spent with patients, the rest being spent on office work, documentation and EHRs – a common source of physician frustration. Also, disjointed processes of gathering paper-based information from a variety of points within a facility lead to delays in uploading this information to the EHR – leading to physicians keeping copies of patient files on hand.

EHRs alone are not enough to decrease the mountains of paper in hospitals and healthcare facilities. Organizations should consider augmenting EHRs with the following capabilities:

Integrated Document Workflows

Even healthcare organizations that have achieved late-stage meaningful use continue to print and process high volumes of paper for assorted reasons – from patient admissions and discharge, to belongings and consent forms, to prescriptions and pharmacy records. The benefits of EHRs can only be achieved insofar as they are integrated with digitally-based document workflows – the series of electronic steps by which a process is executed.

Consider physicians submitting prescriptions to pharmacies. When the EHR is directly integrated into this process, it can be automatically flagged if the patient is on another medication or has an existing condition which could cause an adverse reaction. If the EHR is not integrated, the entire process is disjointed and not as seamless and safe as possible. Or, consider the discharge process – when the EHR is integrated, discharging physicians have immediate access to patient files and charts – negating the need to print this information. Furthermore, studies show that “hybrid” paper-electronic workflows are ripe for error.

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Leveraging Automated Patient Interventions To Drive MIPS Performance

By Gary Hamilton, CEO, InteliChart.

Gary Hamilton
Gary Hamilton

Now that at least 96 percent of hospitals have implemented an electronic health record (EHR) most organizations are facing the reality that the technology has not truly helped them achieve their clinical quality and financial goals.

Electronic, enterprise-wide data is essential to manage highly complex, high-cost patients that providers care for every day. However, EHRs typically do not deliver the insight or tools providers need to manage these high-risk or the near high-risk patients when they are not in the hospital.

If the EHR does offer such population health management (PHM) capabilities, it typically requires an excessive amount of manual data access and manipulation, leading to even greater costs. That means patients who require more intensive care support at home, or who could highly benefit from timely and targeted intervention, face care delays simply due to lack of provider resources.

The Medicare Access and CHIP Re-authorization Act (MACRA) of 2015’s Merit-based Payment System (MIPS) brings this challenge into clear focus, highlighting how individual providers and healthcare organizations need automated patient interventions to efficiently deliver care throughout the continuum. Automation and more precise outreach not only helps care managers work more efficiently, but it also forges stronger engagement between providers and patients for long-term clinical quality and financial gains.

Gaps In Technology Capabilities
According to a recent survey conducted by our company of more than 800 healthcare professionals, most organizations seem to understand how crucial PHM technology is to MIPS success. Few professionals, however, are apparently taking full advantage of available opportunities to better their organization. For example, 80 percent of healthcare professionals reported they have the necessary technology for PHM or to manage MIPS performance, but only 30 percent reported they are able to automate interventions across populations.

Automating interventions is becoming a critical piece of PHM to reduce the significant resources required to analyze data and conduct outreach. Currently, a care manager can spend approximately 40 percent of their time just searching for patient data, while PCMHs require 59 percent more staff per provider to fulfill care management requirements.

Streamlining the data aggregation combined with technology that continuously analyzes data and initiates communication with the patient will eliminate the manual efforts that burden the care managers and providers assigned to PHM today. More importantly, such technology delivers consistency and predictability for patient interventions, an essential component to modify patient behavior and yield successful outcomes.

Yielding More Precise Guidance
Guidance to deliver precise and effective interventions and outreach is possible, yet very limited if confined to single-practice EHR data alone. By only utilizing a provider’s own patient data, organizations will be limited to a partial view of a designated population and the accuracy of patient care-gaps will be substantially degraded. Numerous other data sets, including EHR data captured from unaffiliated providers as well as non-clinical sources, must be included for more accurate outcome predictions and targeted interventions.

For example, by including data from community providers that co-manage patients, data from regional and national HIEs (Carequality/Commonwell), as well as other key data points concerning social determinants of health will yield much more accurate risk scoring and prioritize patients for interventions. Information such as patients’ nearby relatives, home address, and car ownership can change frequently and be incorporated into sophisticated algorithms that help predict behaviors and outcomes.

A care manager can then use those analytic capabilities to stratify these patients into risk categories for more frequent interventions that can be initiated automatically based on pre-defined rules. Patients at varying risk levels for acquiring Type-2 diabetes, for instance, may need different levels of support from the provider to help them make the healthcare and lifestyle choices to better manage their health and improve their outcomes.

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Could Blockchain Be the Answer to Electronic Health Record?

Guest post by Fizzah Iqbal, content writer, Incubasys.

After a number of initial coin offerings being launched in the cryptocurrency market, blockchain development companies plan to introduce blockchain technology to the health records (EHR) industry. The Electronic Health Record (EHR) is a digitised version of patient’s medical history maintained by their doctors over a period of time. It includes information on demographics, diagnosis, vital signs, past medical history, progress over time, lab tests and more.

Owing to the de-centralised nature of blockchain system, it securely stores health records and maintains a single version of the truth that cannot be tampered with. This is of significant importance to different medical organisations and individuals like doctors, hospitals, labs, and insurers who can request permission to access a certain patient’s record from the blockchain without involving an intermediary. It offers two-way benefits; first, doctors and medical organisations get access to patients’ details and history without losing any precious time waiting for approvals from any intermediary and provide better patient care based on more accurate data, second, patients have more control over who sees their data.

The Challenge?

The biggest challenge faced by healthcare systems throughout the world is how to share medical data with known and unknown parties for different reasons without violating patients’ rights and ensuring data security. Creating a trusted environment for decision-making regarding EHRs is challenging for medical community since each EHR stores data using different workflows which makes tracking data recording rather ambiguous. The growing focus on care coordination and EHR access across the care continuum has raised questions about ways to ensure that multiple providers can view, edit and share patient’s data without violating their rights and privacy in any way.

It’s not only about the problem of data sharing logistics in HER instead every solution that requires serious contemplation in a national healthcare system needs to put patient’s privacy and rights first in their list of priorities. And although laws have made health care data more accessible, vast majority of hospitals and doctors still cannot share data safely and securely. The time has arrived where solutions are needed in which patients themselves control whom to share their data with and where to remain pseudonymous.

The Solution?

Healthcare data is inherently sensitive in nature. Besides that the constant challenges of interoperability, patient record matching, and health information exchange have created opportunities for blockchain development companies to come up with a blockchain-based solution.

Once a blockchain solution is deployed to manage EHRs, it becomes a unified and common backbone for digital health. The biggest advantage of using this backbone is that each hospital or care provider no longer needs a specific version of databases or software to access patient data. Any information presented by EHR on the distributed ledger of a permissioned blockchain would be perfectly reconciled community-wide with the assured integrity throughout without any human intervention.

The use of blockchain technology to manage EHRs reduces the time it takes any medical representative to access patient’s information, enhance system interoperability and improve data quality. It also enables a reduction in overhead costs especially for development and maintenance of legacy health record systems. What blockchain does for everyone in healthcare system is that instead of relying on a designated intermediary for information exchange the de-centralised nature of blockchain allows any approved party to join in and either access information, share or exchange without the need to build data exchange channels between certain organisations.

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Making Your Practice Cost-Efficient with Electronic Health Records

Guest post by Tim Scott, chief operating officer, American Medical Software.

There is an ample amount of evidence to back-up the notion that electronic health records (EHRs) help improve medical practice management, by ultimately increasing overall price efficiencies and cost savings within a practice. In fact, a national survey done in August of 2012 rendered the following statistics as evidence to back up this claim:

– 79 percent of providers’ report that with an EHR, their practice functions more efficiently
– 82 percent report that sending prescriptions electronically (e-prescribing) saves time
– 68 percent of providers see their EHR as an asset with recruiting physicians
– 75 percent receive lab results faster
– 70 percent report enhances in data confidentiality

These results offer an abundance of proof towards the fact that there is an obvious correlation between EHRs and overall practice efficiency, as well as general cost savings.

Now that we can provide plenty of evidence towards the notion that EHR software can result in a more effective practice, let’s look into what specific items are actually being reported by individuals. More specifically, what particular results of EHR solutions are providing them with fewer headaches in managing patient records.

In a study completed for the Journal of Revenue and Pricing Management, these are the main reductions and overall time-savers that stem from these profound digital records:

– Reduced transcription costs
– Reduced chart pull, storage, and re-filing costs
– Improved and more accurate reimbursement coding with improved documentation for highly compensated codes
– Reduced medical errors through better access to patient data and error prevention alerts
– Improved patent health/quality of care through better disease management and patient education

These points can, of course, be quite apparent once you implement EHR solutions into your practice. However, there is another huge benefit that is often reported by members of practices that initialize EHR solutions. That being the resulted drop in paperwork, which is often the biggest strain on office managers and administrative office workers for practices of any size. However, EHRs can streamline these tasks and create a practice that can largely benefit from this move towards a digital platform.

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Why EHRs Must Embrace APIs

Guest post by Justin Rockman, vice president of sales and business development, Surgimate.

Justin Rockman
Justin Rockman

Since the late ’80s, the inflexible and cumbersome Health Level 7 (HL7) protocol has been the standard form of sending messages between healthcare applications. However, HL7 integration is timely to implement, technically limited and costly. It is not uncommon for a medical practice to face upwards of $10,000 in expenditure for one simple message.

Application programming interfaces (APIs) have recently become a fashionable alternative. The term API sounds complicated, but it’s really just a way in which software applications (like your EHR) can talk to other systems, and exchange large amounts of data rapidly and securely. In short – they support better, faster, cheaper interoperability.

In addition to transmitting data between systems, APIs offer the ability to plug in chunks of functionality to another system, in a clean and predictable manner. Instantaneous and seamless interaction between systems is the leanest and trendiest way to design software in 2018. New applications should not “reinvent the functionality wheel” but provide unique integratable services.

As the EHR market estimated to reach $28 billion in 2016, it is no surprise that tech titans like Amazon, and Apple are looking for ways to get a slice of the pie. With top of the line products sure to come from those companies and others, here are 4 reasons why healthcare IT vendors must offer their clients a way to integrate using APIs.

Platform Stickiness

Physicians need easy access to data supported by EHRs, but hate the time it takes to manually enter patient information. It’s no wonder – doctors typically spend 50 percent of their day working with an EHR. If a physician isn’t happy with the usability or efficiency of their system, they’ll drop it and choose another. While the annual EHR adoption rate among providers is 67 percent, the EHR vendor switch rate is about 15 percent.

APIs offer cheaper and deeper integration options. For EHR vendors to provide better value for their customers they must embrace the API and ditch the expensive, outdated and rigid HL7 protocol.

Using an EHR that is integrated with other programs will make switching systems even more inconvenient. EHR vendors who give customers the additional functionality offered by their partners will be rewarded with brand loyalty, and lower churn.

An Additional Revenue Stream

Innovative EHR vendors are partnering with upstart technology companies to generate additional revenue. Greenway and athenahealth advertise an array of solutions in their marketplace, and provide partners with utilization of their APIs. In exchange, they receive monthly or recurring payment for each license sold. Since most practices already have purchased an EHR, finding new revenue streams is crucial for a company’s growth.

The healthcare API market is predicted to exceed $200 million in the next few years. Former engineers from Epic Systems saw the industry’s need for interoperability and raised $15 million in venture capital to found Redox – a company solely focussed on building bridges between healthcare applications. Creating platforms that deliver easy integrations at reasonable costs will greatly benefit the healthcare industry.

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What’s Ahead for Electronic Health Record Technology in 2018

Jeff Lew, vice president of product management, Nextech.

Jeffery Lew
Jeffrey Lew

The dawn of a new year brings anticipation for things to come—and this certainly holds true regarding health information technology. Electronic health records (EHRs) continue to evolve, and the next 12 months should provide some excitement as new developments emerge. In particular, there are three trends worth watching.

The inescapable shift to the cloud

More and more healthcare organizations are seeking cloud-based EHR and practice management systems, and it appears this trend will continue throughout the coming year. One of the primary reasons for moving to the cloud is the economics of these solutions. An organization does not have to maintain costly hardware and software or allocate resources for upgrades and other technology management functions. Instead, the system is housed remotely and kept constantly up-to-date by the vendor. Users can access the software with any device that has an internet connection, including laptops, tablets and, in some cases, smartphones. A cloud solution is especially cost effective for those organizations that have multiple facilities. Gone are the days of a server in each site—users can bring their laptops or tablets with them as they travel from location to location, logging in to the system from anywhere. Not only can this keep costs in check, it can also promote greater user satisfaction because the tool offers the flexibility to work from anyplace at any time.

Security and protecting an organization’s IT from threats will continue to make headlines like it has in the past year. It is a real and present risk that organizations must be acutely aware of and ensure relevant preventative measures are established and continuously maintained. This requires not just the relevant knowledge and skills, but also focus and resources, that many organizations may not have.

Ultimately, most—if not all healthcare providers—will shift to cloud-based solutions at some point. Although the move may not occur immediately for every organization, 2018 will see many healthcare entities take steps in that direction.

Complying with MACRA

This past November, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released the final rule governing 2018 MACRA participation. The rule introduced several changes that stand to impact physician practices and other healthcare organizations. Here are a few key aspects of the rule of which to be aware for the coming year:

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How Can Healthcare Workflow Analysis Help Hospitals In Deploying their EHR System Successfully?

Guest post by Saqib Ayaz, co-founder, Workflow Management and Optimization.

Saqib Ayaz
Saqib Ayaz

The reason why many hospitals or medical practices fail to integrate the EHR system effectively is that they have not gone for in-depth healthcare workflow analysis before implementing the EHR tool. Healthcare workflow analysis helps hospitals and medical centers to find out areas where health IT solutions can help in increasing the efficiency of performance.

It is important to design an EHR which smoothly fits into the workflow pattern of the medical establishment. The same EHR model does not work for every medical center. This is where healthcare workflow analysis techniques come in useful in designing the best EHR system for the medical facility.

Here are some steps that need to be followed during the healthcare workflow analysis in order to implement the EHR system perfectly:

Mapping of processes

This is the first thing that needs to be done while carrying out healthcare workflow analysis. The core processes that usually take place with regard to individual patients and which need to be analyzed in detail are as follows:

Scheduling: When a person first approaches a medical center, an appointment is fixed. The medical center receives multiple appointment requests every day and all these appointments need to be properly recorded in schedule calendars. Fact sheets are prepared to record the number of patients that the medical center receives during a particular time period. The scheduling process also includes alerts. Both the patient and the doctor should receive alerts about the upcoming appointment in order to be ready for it.

Patient visit: When the patient comes to the appointment, the doctor conducts a medical evaluation. The general checkup is followed by a psych evaluation. After the evaluation process is over, the doctor carries out the diagnosis process. Every step needs to be recorded so that progress notes can be made and the doctor can charge the patient accordingly.

Patient admission: After the diagnosis process is over; the patient gets admitted into the medical facility on the recommendation of the doctor. The enrollment process requires the signing of various forms so that the medical facility gets all the details about the patient.

Treatment process: Once the patient is admitted into the facility, the doctor makes a treatment plan. Either individual therapy or group therapy is provided along with medication management so that the patient can recover as soon as possible.

Discharge from the hospital: When the treatment process comes to an end, the patient is discharged on the date suggested by the doctor. A discharge plan is made and lots of reports are generated in order to record the treatment process of the patient in detail.

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Why Your Practice Needs Electronic Health Reporting

As technology evolves and there’s more emphasis on streamlining business practices, there’s an increasing reliance on electronic health records. In 2014, private healthcare providers were required to adopt electronic medical records to maintain their existing Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement levels. The move was a part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which aimed to improve quality, safety, efficiency and reduce health disparities.

The Act also offered financial incentives to those providers who could prove meaningful use in the adoption of electronic health reporting. Non-compliant healthcare providers faced penalties, including a 1 percent reduction in Medicare reimbursements. When it was officially mandated, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicted a 12 percent growth in employment opportunities from 2014 to 2024. Positions they expected to open up included medical records and health information technicians, computer systems managers, health managers and computer support specialists.

If you’re unsure about the role electronic health reporting can play in your practice, using the following information as a valuable resource. Every practice can benefit from EHR, and it’s important to understand the how and why.

Electronic Medical Records vs. Electronic Health Records

Electronic medical records and electronic health records are often used interchangeably, but there are some key differences. Medical records offer a more narrow view of an individual’s medical history, and it’s used mainly for diagnosis and treatment. They are unique to a specific practice and are not designed to be shared outside of that practice.

Electronic health records, on the other hand, show a patient’s overall history. It is a comprehensive medical chart that’s intended to be shared with other practices. It includes everything from images to allergies to lab results. If the patient were to move across state lines, their electronic medical record would follow them, while an electronic health record stays with the practices they leave behind.

Improved Efficiency and Cost Savings

Electronic health records can provide immense benefits in terms of increased efficiency. This can be demonstrated by current statistics on EHR. One survey found that 79 percent of users stated that EHR allowed their practices to run more efficiently. Of the doctors surveyed, 82 percent reported that sending prescriptions electronically saved time, 75 percent received lab results even quicker, and 70 percent reported increased data confidentiality.

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Why Your Practice Needs Electronic Health Reporting

As technology evolves and there’s more emphasis on streamlining business practices, there’s an increasing reliance on electronic health records. In 2014, private healthcare providers were required to adopt electronic medical records to maintain their existing Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement levels. The move was a part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which aimed to improve quality, safety, efficiency and reduce health disparities.

The Act also offered financial incentives to those providers who could prove meaningful use in the adoption of electronic health reporting. Non-compliant healthcare providers faced penalties, including a 1 percent reduction in Medicare reimbursements. When it was officially mandated, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicted a 12 percent growth in employment opportunities from 2014 to 2024. Positions they expected to open up included medical records and health information technicians, computer systems managers, health managers and computer support specialists.

If you’re unsure about the role electronic health reporting can play in your practice, using the following information as a valuable resource. Every practice can benefit from EHR, and it’s important to understand the how and why.

Electronic Medical Records vs. Electronic Health Records

Electronic medical records and electronic health records are often used interchangeably, but there are some key differences. Medical records offer a more narrow view of an individual’s medical history, and it’s used mainly for diagnosis and treatment. They are unique to a specific practice and are not designed to be shared outside of that practice.

Electronic health records, on the other hand, show a patient’s overall history. It is a comprehensive medical chart that’s intended to be shared with other practices. It includes everything from images to allergies to lab results. If the patient were to move across state lines, their electronic medical record would follow them, while an electronic health record stays with the practices they leave behind.

Improved Efficiency and Cost Savings

Electronic health records can provide immense benefits in terms of increased efficiency. This can be demonstrated by current statistics on EHR. One survey found that 79 percent of users stated that EHR allowed their practices to run more efficiently. Of the doctors surveyed, 82 percent reported that sending prescriptions electronically saved time, 75 percent received lab results even quicker, and 70 percent reported increased data confidentiality.

EHR Cost Savings

There are immense cost savings associated with EHR. For example, large hospitals can save anywhere between $37 million to $59 million over a five-year period, not including incentive benefits. The majority of those savings come from the ability to eliminate various labor-intensive tasks and other paper-driven responsibilities. With better access to patient data and smart error prevention alerts, the chances of medical errors are greatly reduced. You’ll also experience easier communication across the entire medical channel. You can track electronic messages from staff to labs to other hospitals and clinicians.

Many administrative tasks are streamlined, resulting in time reduction. Filling out forms and taking care of billing requests often take up a significant portion of healthcare costs. Electronic health records also provide more information on next best steps, and can automatically siphon information that needs to be shared with various public health agencies.

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