According to a study conducted by HIMSS Analytics, commissioned by EDCO Health Information Solutions, electronic medical records (EMRs) hold much potential to improve the quality of patient care and increase overall satisfaction. The study results are based on an analysis of in-depth interviews with 11 CIOs, health information management (HIM) directors and other executives from the seven participating organizations.
To realize their promise, however, these records need to contain complete information, not merely the data that is created in a digital format. That means information that typically flows into healthcare organizations via paper – the litany of results, referrals and reports – must somehow find its way into computerized systems and the patient electronic medical record in a timely manner.
Many organizations have implemented or are planning to leverage point-of-care scanning technology to create the complete EMR solution. This technology enables staff to quickly achieve maximum productivity and optimal accuracy by scanning batches of loose documents in real-time instead of through a separate labor intensive process down the line. In fact, according to the study, five out of seven organizations are relying on point-of-care scanning to create the complete EMRs that will advance these health care institutions to securing Stage 7 accreditation on the HIMSS Electronic Medical Record Adoption Model (EMRAM).
Although reaching the EMRAM milestone prompts many organizations to implement point-of-care scanning technology, the ability to quickly tap into complete information is where the true value lies. Access to this knowledge leads to a higher quality of care and safer patient experience. In fact, six out of the seven organizations represented in the study indicated that making key information available in a timely manner is key to improving outcomes.
“With EDCO’s Solarity point-of-care scanning solution, all of the paper gets rolled into the EMR as it comes into play. So, there is no lag time and the benefits associated with having relevant data at the point of care fall into place quickly,” said Chris Teumer, vice president information services and technology, Rochester Regional Health, a five-hospital health system in New York.
Such swift access to comprehensive patient information is held in high regard by constituents across the healthcare delivery continuum. According to the study results, leaders from six of the seven facilities believe that clinicians value the EMR as the primary source of patient information.
Indeed, quick access to EHR data results in making fully informed decisions, speedier diagnosis, as well as improved continuity and care communication. In addition, clinicians can access data in a variety of locations, making it possible to expediently treat patients remotely.
Administrators also appreciate the timely access to complete data. In fact, five of seven organizations participating in the research credited such access with the ability to provide a safer environment and higher quality of care for patients, as well as increased efficiencies and lower operating costs. More specifically, the comprehensive data can result in reduced length of stay, reductions in HIM staff, as well as fewer days in accounts receivable. In fact, the readily available information makes it possible to more efficiently code and charge for services.
While some of the participants made a point of saying that financial considerations did not propel the adoption of point-of-care scanning, they acknowledged that the improved efficiency could help the bottom line by reducing treatment delays, days in accounts receivable and readmissions. And, creating these complete EMRs could help organizations meet meaningful use metrics, and eventually qualify for incentive payments.
“Point-of-care scanning is just so much more efficient, it’s all incorporated into the electronic medical record right away and our HIM staff can spend time on value-added activities,” said Sharon Korzdorfer, director of HIM, St. Lukes Health System based in Kansas City, Mo.
In fact, EDCO’s Solarity point-of-care scanning solution maximizes efficiency and improves quality in pre- and post-discharge document capture, resulting in a variety of financial and operational benefits to healthcare organizations. However, in the final analysis, the ability to readily access 100 percent of the relevant clinical information is what truly turns the promise of EMRs into a reality – improving the quality of care and increasing the satisfaction of clinicians, administrators and patients.