Electronic Medical Records in 2016 – A Success Story

August 19, 2016

Employee Benefit & HR News

It’s been three years since we posted “Update 2013-Electronic Medical Records-What’s next?”. Back in 2013, Electronic Medical Records (EMRs) were a relatively new technology most health care providers were working to adjust to.  Since then a great deal of progress has been made in getting doctors and hospital to adopt this new system of recording the health information of their patients.

As mentioned in our previous article, the Federal government began investing over $31 billion in 2011 in the form of incentives payments to physicians and hospital to spur the move toward using Electronic Medical Records. Today almost every hospital and about 75% of physicians have implemented EMRs.  And although the use of EMR systems has become prevalent, physicians still continue to complain about having to use them.

Earlier this year at the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society Convention, Dr. Karen DeSalvo, National Coordinator for the Health Information Technology at the Department of Health and Human Services, announced more work is now needed to reform our health care delivery system so that we can begin to reap the most value from that investment.

Three year goals were established in January 2015 in the form of a draft interoperability roadmap, Connecting Health and Care for the Nation. Progress has been made in connecting networks in both private enterprise solutions and public health exchanges.

Dr. DeSalvo mentioned two mobile apps are still needed. One will be used by consumers while the second will be for clinicians.  These apps will enhance interoperability of EMR systems at a cost of $175,000 each.  Development of “an open resource” website is also needed which will make it easier for developers to publish apps.

These initiatives are reflective of the need for EMR systems to make the lives of health care providers simpler instead of more complex. And to give patients improved access to their medical information and a better way to communicate with their doctors.

Key trends continuing in 2016 according to an article published in Healthcare IT News include the following:

  • Cloud-based EMR services which will reduce the costs of implementation and updating of EMR systems.
  • Improved patient portals with additional features allowing a heightened level of access and patient recording of health information.
  • Growth of telehealth estimated to hit over $30 billion by the end of the decade. The expansion of this service is expected to mesh well with the growing senior population.
  • Mobile friendly EMR systems that allowing providers to untether from a computer screen.

Opening the avenues of access to health information also increases the risk of a data breach. The hacking of personal medical information holds great potential in the quest by the unscrupulous for identify theft and other cybercrimes.  Data security is of utmost importance especially when accessing through mobile devices or other cloud based services.  It is vital for systems to maintain the utmost level of cybersecurity during implementation and as updates are made for additional features.

In summary, a great deal of progress has been achieved in EMRs in the past several years. Enhancements and improvements being implemented today and in the near future will further solidify this technology into our health care delivery system. The ultimate payoff will be improved patient care and reduced cost of health care.

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About Rick Ewers

Mr. Ewers is an analytical consultant providing financial analysis, vendor evaluations, market & compliance analysis, as well as national industry trending for group employers.

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