4 Major Health Information Technology Benefits
It’s strange to imagine life before we had access to the world’s repositories of knowledge in a slim metallic device that fits in our pockets. Technology has surged through our lives and our society, propelling us into an unexpected yet exciting future. One of the most significant advances in information technology is the widespread adoption of the electronic health record in American healthcare organizations. While implementation has not been perfect, there are several notable benefits that come from the transformation of health information technology:
1. More health data, plus an improved ability to analyze and apply that data
As our white paper explains further, healthcare data is accumulating faster than ever before. EHRs were created in part to address and corral this huge amount of data, which has only grown with the advent of imaging data, wearables, commercial genetic testing, and more.
EHRs also have the potential to create useful repositories, such as for immunization histories, that authorized users can access for analysis and public health concerns. For example, Maine company HealthInfoNet offers an exchange that links medical information from separate health care sites to a single record. Of course, all providers and EHR creators work to make sure that such repositories—and EHR databases overall—are secure so that private data stays private.
2. Increased speed of analysis and diagnosis
To mirror what feels like every other aspect of our lives, EHRs help medicine move faster. In a study of 103 simulated cases with 26 registered physicians, “using EHR reduced the mean time for diagnosis and management by more than two minutes” and improved confidence in the final diagnosis by about 16%. (Ben-Assuli et al, 2015)
EHRs can also reduce the number of unnecessary tests and procedures (and their associated costs) by sharing and showing past results from other healthcare organizations—thus saving time and energy for both the patient and the provider.
3. Better communication between providers and patients
As an extension of the EHR, patient portals may allow patients to review their histories, prescriptions, and test results. Messaging systems mean that you can write a confidential note to your physician and receive personalized attention quicker than ever before. Simple functions like automated reminders to check in or schedule an appointment also make the burden on both patients and providers lighter.
And the technology is only evolving further! In a survey of 101 patients and their 28 clinicians after their visit, 79% of patients and 74% of clinicians agreed that adding patient-created agendas to the electronic medical record (EMR) improved patient-clinician communication during the appointment. This simple addition means that patients will have more confidence that their concerns will be heard and addressed. (Anderson et al, 2017)
Read more: Top Health Technology Trends & Insights
4. Overall improved care
Of course, the most important aspect of any healthcare initiative is that it improves patient care. When it comes to EHRs:
“Among those whose physician uses an electronic health record (88 percent of the public), large shares say that their physician’s use of an EHR has made the quality of care they receive and their interactions with their physician “better” (45 percent and 44 percent, respectively). Similar shares (47 percent, both) say the quality of care they receive and their interactions with their physician have “stayed the same” while few say that EHRs have made the quality of care they receive or their interactions with their physician “worse” (six percent and seven percent, respectively).” (Source: January 2019 KFF Health Tracking Poll)
Now the flip side to health information technology benefits
What we know about our health is constantly expanding. EHRs are the best tool available to synthesize that information, and they come with a variety of additional benefits and opportunities. Of course, as with any major technology, they’ve also run into a few challenges. Learn about the three major issues with EHRs and why health informaticists could be the solution in our white paper:Graduate Programs in Health Informatics | Health Informatics | Master of Science in Health Informatics