The role of Electronic Health Records (EHRs) in value-based healthcare

Posted on: October 11, 2017 by

Provide value-based healthcare without using an EHR? Manage healthcare outcomes without having insights? Not possible. On the other hand: Improving patient outcomes by just using an EHR? Establishing value-based healthcare by just buying a fancy new product? That will not work either.

Let’s have a closer look at EHRs and value-based healthcare.

The role of EHRs

EHRs play several vital roles when it comes to value-based healthcare. The most obvious one is to document the treatments performed and the outcomes. This basically comes down to a structured and maybe guided way of collecting data and is what EHRs have been doing for decades now.

Besides documentation, it is important to provide insights on the treatments performed and the outcomes achieved. Easy to access and standardized reports as well as tools to dynamically analyse data are other important functionalities of EHRs when it comes to value-based healthcare.

It is important to understand the delivery of healthcare, not only treatments. It is vital for healthcare providers to understand all the factors that lead to their outcomes. In addition, it is also important to be able to benchmark their outcomes with other organizations within a region, country or internationally. Treatments may be the same but delivery may be making a material difference to outcomes.

To achieve repeatable outcomes, it is important to plan and execute healthcare delivery based on standards. EHRs are already supporting, and will in future support much further, the planning, implementation and executions of standards in healthcare delivery.

Aside from EHRs

However, EHRs alone cannot meet the needs of value-based healthcare. You must also have transformation and innovation. Business transformation will be one of the key challenges for healthcare providers. It will be important to adjust and improve processes to deliver healthcare as well as to transform the whole organization into a new era. Depending on the current delivery of healthcare, this will be a massive shift which will require initial transformation but, more than that, it will require continuous improvements and innovations.

This transformation and innovation piece is probably the biggest challenge to healthcare organizations as well as to EHRs. Collaboration or new ways of delivering healthcare services will become much more important for sure. EHRs need to provide the flexibility and the technological platform to enable healthcare providers to continuously transform and to innovate.

Like in other industries, it will no longer be possible to stick to the same processes for years. Healthcare organizations will be forced to introduce innovation much faster and in a leaner way. It will be important the EHRs support those changes and enable healthcare professionals to collaborate in easy and intuitive ways.

The final challenge

Besides all the technology, the transformation to value-based healthcare will be primarily a transformation of culture. This, for sure, will require support by IT but IT will not be the main challenge.

Even now we see healthcare organizations struggle to realize the value of their current EHR solution. Much more needs to be done to translate the process of using EHRs into insight and change in delivery. This is a key challenge right now but it doesn’t end here. Once realized, healthcare organizations will be required to continuously transform both delivery processes and EHRs to continue to improve outcomes for patients.

We are at the start of an ongoing journey.

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