EHRs are the electronic equivalent of a patient’s paper chart. They are real-time, patient-centered records that enable a network of authorized healthcare professionals globally with a much more in-depth picture of a patient’s health than the typical clinical data gathered at a provider’s office.
EHRs offer usable data that can be transmitted safely and privately regarding a patient’s medical history. The health sector is moving toward a more interdisciplinary approach to care. Thus, assembling a varied team of providers and experts is essential. Cloud-based electronic health records (EHR) platforms provide a secure way to exchange, access, and organize essential patient data.
More On Telehealth and Its History
Even though telehealth has been available for a while, clinics found it challenging to use it before COVID-19. However, telehealth gained popularity as a strategy to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus. Because of this, integrated telehealth solutions were frequently considered a last-resort method of providing healthcare and were not recognized as a natural choice by clinics.
- Clinics were entrusted with coming up with an instant virtual remedy as stopping the spread of COVID-19 became of the utmost importance.
- Medicare and Medicaid were compelled to create telehealth service codes.
- Healthcare facilities today can access greater tools and information as technology develops further.
Despite being the most important component of the digital revolution, electronic health record technology is simply one part of the solution to the problem of a need for more interoperability throughout the system. Modern patients demand their health information to be easily accessible as they switch healthcare providers.
The Association between EHRs and Telehealth
The degree of compatibility between different EHR telehealth functions is the best example of how other these functionalities are from one another. A telehealth capability in an EHR is one thing, but it’s crucial to assess whether the EHR is adaptable enough to provide a user-friendly experience.
Thus, practitioners should evaluate the EHR’s telehealth strategy to determine whether it facilitates virtual care. For instance, is it simple to transfer patient information from telehealth services to the billing department, or does it necessitate several minutes or hours of data entry?
- The most crucial thing is for clinicians to comprehend whether their technology benefits or harms patients.
- Practitioners will spend more time with patients and less on administrative activities when telemedicine and other clinical operations are compatible with the clinic’s current EHR.
Video technology is HIPAA-compliant now through 256-bit AES encryption of all meeting data and chat messages, which is another advantage of having telehealth services seamlessly integrated into the EHR platform.
Common Telehealth Challenges Addressed Through Interoperability
Discussed below are a few of the challenges that interoperability can solve:
Cost of Using Telehealth Services
Numerous clinics still rely on virtual meeting spaces rather than optimized telehealth solutions, even in the wake of the COVID-19 epidemic. While this might be effective for clinics with a single provider, it rapidly becomes pricey for clinics with multiple doctors. While obtaining a single license for a virtual meeting is simple, doing so repeatedly can get expensive. Additionally, patient data needs to be put into the EHR after the appointment.
Lack of Care Coordination
Another area for improvement in providing telehealth services is care coordination. In-person, patients schedule appointments with the front desk, complete paperwork before seeing the doctor, and go through a different billing procedure after the appointment. Although physical visits were not intended to be replicated by telehealth, more sophisticated technology assists in coordinating virtual patient administrative operations.
The comfort level of workers and providers with telehealth solutions also needs to rise. Even though most clinics have only recently started using telehealth, interoperability might help people feel more comfortable using technology. When all crucial healthcare elements are integrated, networked, and operated as a cohesive whole through a single EHR, the learning curve for telehealth is decreased.
The use of telehealth should be accelerated by systemic health policy in order to assist with its integration into clinical practice and enhance patient care. Hospitals should examine telehealth solutions for the delivery of healthcare and establish adoption strategies for various telehealth service types. Physicians should provide the same standard of care and adhere to the same treatment protocols for in-person and telehealth treatments, and they should make sure that their operations comply with all relevant laws.
Although most hospitals in the U.S. have implemented interoperable EHR systems, it is still being determined whether small, rural, and safety net hospitals can keep up. Smaller and more rural hospitals have less interoperability, expertise in managing a health care IT, and less technologically savvy staff compared to more technologically sophisticated hospitals. Some small clinics and post-acute care facilities cannot collect or share patient data due to the unequal adoption of telemedicine services.
With telehealth’s growing popularity, it’s anticipated that it will change to resemble in-person encounters closely. Practitioners will consider how to create their online environment so that patients feel as at home as they would in a physical location. Despite the near-limitless potential of telemedicine, practitioners will need to find a method to replicate the formal atmosphere of their physical offices in their telehealth locations.
Today’s healthcare system depends heavily on telehealth, which is no longer considered a supplemental service. With modern technology, doctors can work more quickly, monitor better health outcomes, and interact with patients and one another more efficiently. Telehealth will see increased use as the healthcare landscape develops further.