There is no denying that electronic health records (EHR) have taken over. It has created a convenience for patients and cured a lot of management headaches for physicians. Now the nation seems to be trending towards an even more fluid way to manage health records for hospitals and practices. EHR networks are starting to be put into place around the nation. The idea that patients might be visiting different physicians or hospitals within a certain regional area or sometimes travel even greater distances for medical care is not a new concept. So why not have EHR networks to make transitions between physicians and different offices more efficient and less time consuming?
Benefits of an EHR NetworkThe days of faxing or even scanning and emailing medical records are soon to be over. In a letter to the editor article in the NY Times, Howard Zucker, Commissioner of the New York State Health Department, explained some of the benefits of EHR networks. “The value of electronic health records comes from being interconnected, giving doctors secure and confidential access to consenting patients’ medical information anytime, anywhere, and potentially saving lives. Interconnectivity enables transmission of patient clinical records through a network connection.” EHR networks and the standards associated with them will allow physicians to broaden the transfer of health information. The idea is to have a “Plug and Play” system, as Zucker calls it, that connects all medical practices and hospitals that plug into the EHR network. Zucker emphasizes the point that this can reduce costs and allow for smaller medical practices to have access to the same information that major medical hospital systems have. This will create a network of practices and hospitals that can not only improve administrative as well as clinical management within their own walls, but grow new markets and develop innovative products. New York state is already investing in this statewide EHR network and other states are most likely to follow suit. The future makes it look like a national EHR network isn’t too far off. It could make the transfer of medical information and health records across the nation more available and breed innovation and valuable collaboration.
What does this mean for my practice?
- Fluid transfer of medical records from other providers
- Reduction of duplicate tests
- Saving on management costs