You may have noticed an abnormal number of mustached men walking the streets lately. We understand if you were even a little disturbed. Unless you live in one of these cities, chances are these facial fixings are a product of Movember, a national movement aimed at raising funds and awareness for men’s health issues.
Burt Reynolds lookalikes aren’t enough to help combat diseases like prostate cancer, however. Physicians need other tools to treat the epidemics plaguing American males.
Luckily, health IT solutions can play a key role in helping prevent problems leading to the abnormally high death rates of men in the United States.
According to Movember’s official website, on average, men die at a significantly younger age than women. The life expectancy for American men is almost five years less than women (presently 76 compared to 81 years), although there is no real biological reason for this. One of the main contributors for the poor state of men’s health in the United States is a general lack of awareness and understanding about the health issues men face.
Most EHRs contain a patient history feature that make it simple for doctors to see if a patient has a family history of cancer. This is a crucial piece of information for physicians because, according to the American Cancer Society, having a father or brother with the disease more than doubles your risk for prostate cancer.
Physicians can then schedule their EHR to flag certain at-risk patients who haven’t received their latest prostate screenings. Detecting prostate cancer in its earliest stages is crucial to improving survival rates.
Patient portals not only allow for better interaction with patients, they can also grant patients access to educational materials through a secure network. Doctors should use this medium to send patients articles on men’s health issues like yearly PSA screenings, proper dieting, and healthier life choices.
Also, since cancer reporting and patient education are key components of Stage 2 Meaningful Use, using your EHR to address men’s health issues may actually help you qualify for an incentive payment from CMS.
Recent studies have found that factors like geography and socioeconomic status have a significant impact on the occurrence and progression of prostate cancer. Thankfully, EHRs have the ability to aggregate regional data to help improve physician diagnosis.
With EHRs, information is available whenever and wherever it is needed. As we speak, EHRs all over the country are capturing, organizing and analyzing massive amounts of patient data to better arm physicians with the tangible knowledge they need to make more educated treatment decisions.
For example, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently used EHR data to update this map, which pinpoints incidences of prostate cancer by state. If you’re a primary care physician or urologist practicing in one of the designated high-risk areas, it may be a good idea to screen male patients more often.
Men’s health issues are just one capacity where health IT tools have proven useful. They’ve also been shown to increase data security, enhance patient satisfaction, and hopefully, lead to a healthier, happier population.
Interested in seeing how a smart health IT investment can help boost practice efficiency and profitability? Download “Improving the ROI of EHR of Your EHR: 3 Keys to Success” today.