EHR stands for Electronic Health Record and GVMH is ahead of the curve when it comes to EHR use and the major beneficiary is the patient.
The EHR has replaced the paper chart in many hospitals across the country but most organizations have been slow to make the change and do not have a functional EHR. Most hospitals have bits and pieces but they are far from functional. The major obstacle in adopting an EHR is a fear of the unknown. Paper charts have been around since the stone tablet went away and its hard for people to change behavior.
Paper charts may be comfortable for providers but in the end its patient care that suffers. The adoption of an EHR is slow and painful, we know first hand at GVMH as our evolution has taken several years, but once the EHR is in place the benefits for patients and providers is huge.
When physicians are liberated from paper charts they are able to search records more rapidly and share data with specialists or doctors in other locations should a patient move or fall ill away from home. Physicians no longer have to write prescriptions by hand which reduces medication errors and pharmacies are able to better track dosage and refill rates. EHR’s help to reduce redundant tests for patients because lab and x-ray information is easier to access and share and patients visiting an Emergency Room receive quicker treatment because historical information is readily available. Ready access to historical information like recent tests and procedures helps to reduce reflex testing based on current symptoms.
An EHR can also help doctors think by giving them digital prompts such as warnings about allergies, wrong medications or suggestions about the latest treatment options. Being a doctor is difficult and new information is released daily, the EHR helps smart people be even smarter.
Countries with national health care systems like Denmark, Sweden and New Zealand require EHR use and they have found that physician productivity has increased with the use of EHR’s and patient safety has increased as well.
The US is providing incentive to hospitals and physicians to invest in EHR’s and by the year 2015 will begin penalizing those who don’t by withholding payments. Fortunately, GVMH is well ahead of the curve and our patients benefit from the use of an EHR every day.