How clinical document processing improves clinical care & operating costs

The move from paper based health records to electronic health records has created a significant improvement in the quality of care for Provider Enterprises in the US

clinical documentation
Accessing records with one click saves costs for unnecessary tests and time for clinical procedures.

By Dr. Nikesh R. Shah,

Countries across the world are trying hard to reduce the costs of healthcare and make it more accessible, given the mounting cost of healthcare, changing demographics and global mobility. As populations age, and the world gets smaller, it has become all the more important that healthcare solutions use available and emerging technologies that can serve as the pivotal means to solve this complex situation. The first step in this direction is digitizing health records, and making sure that these documents capture the relevant information succinctly and with high quality for the patients’ medical conditions and history. 

In the US the HITECH Act of 2009 encouraged and promoted the use of electronic health records (EHR) for all hospitals and health systems. The ONC Report states that, as of 2017 94% hospitals had started using electronic data from EHRs to perform clinical processes. The fast and diligent adoption of EHR in the US has resulted in increased quality of care, patient safety and superior healthcare organization performance. To understand how these results are achieved we will inspect the primary advantages of applying EHR and related data processing techniques for patient care. 

Scale of Patient Records: Imagine presenting your physician with bundles of files during every visit, or imagine the physicians sifting through multiple pages every time a patient walks in for care. Now imagine accessing all patient history at the click of a button. Since EHRs are digitized health records, they are scalable and without any limitations. They have the ability to capture all patients records in detail and build a patient history throughout the care continuum and during multiple interactions and instances. They can have diagnostic records, medication history, allergies, family history, social history, so on and so forth. 

Safety of Patient Records: More often than not, all information may not be carried by the patients during visits, therefore missing out on some crucial information, the lack of which could harm the patients. EHRs make sure that information is within reach for the attending physicians and clinicians thereby placing patient safety as a priority. This information remains accessible despite patients flowing through different care settings or geographies.  

Timely Interventions: EHRs enable accessing information swiftly. Accessing records with one click saves costs for unnecessary tests and time for clinical procedures. They also improve compliance during time sensitive interventions, giving enough information to the physicians to carry out procedures, improving quality of care. 

Cost-effective: Manual documentation requires significant time and effort from the care teams. They may not always be 100% reliable and therefore could contribute to loss of time and repetitive tests / procedures. All this can add up to a significant cost for the healthcare organization and the patient. Electronic records on the other hand mitigate errors, save time and effort, by virtue of which it helps in reducing the overall cost of care. 

Data Analytics: Data analysis can be a very effective way to drive preventive care; especially with the world’s aging population needing more elder care, and for patients dealing with serious illnesses or hereditary diseases. Population health data models can give healthcare specialists specific data points to study and develop personalized care management frameworks for patients. Furthermore, effective use of EHR data can also help with flagging off any such situation of epidemics or pandemics hitting us in the future. 

Technology today has opened up a whole world of care management that is effective, better, safer and more efficient. While EHRs have everything good to offer to the healthcare industry, the added administrative tasks that it creates for physicians and clinicians is a known cause of concern however with the appropriate combination of integrated practice management partners – hospitals, health systems, and physician practices have been able to find the right balance to create clinical, financial and operating excellence at scale. 

(The author is Senior Vice President, Operations, IKS Care & Coding. Views expressed are personal and do not reflect the official position or policy of the Financial Express Online.)

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First published on: 31-01-2022 at 13:22 IST