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Ways of Implementing Electronic Health Records System (Term Paper Sample)


write a 3 page paper on the application and challenges involved with implementing an electronic health record (ehr) system for a private family medicine practice


Implementing Electronic Health Records System
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Abstract – The article discusses the implementation of an electronic health records system in a family medical practice. Some of the critical components discussed are EHRs functionalities, integration of practice management system with EHRs, the advantages and challenges of implementing EHRs in the healthcare system. The article also discusses the planning and successful implementation of EHRs. Further, the article discusses disaster recovery strategies and evaluates technological and cloud computing considerations for EHRs. Finally, it outlines recommendations for suitable EHRs for the family medical practice based on the budget data.
The emergence and advances in technology have effectively disrupted bulky paper folders' use to keep, manage, and retrieve patient health information in the healthcare industry. The vast transition from a paper-based document storage system to electronic health records is notable healthcare reform. However, the transition from paper-based record keeping to an Electronic health records system presents opportunities and challenges to private and public healthcare systems [3]. Though the EHR system is used in public and private health facilities, this article focuses on the EHR system implementation for a private family medicine practice.
* Electronic Health Records System Functionalities
The institute of medicine committee came up with eight EHR functionalities to improve the standards for patient safety. Firstly, the critical functionality of EHR involves collecting patient data about diagnosis, laboratory results, medications, and allergies; the system must also process and store the data to allow easy retrieval, analysis, and transmission [1]. Secondly, the EHR system should allow for access to new and past test results, providing the ability to share results among practitioners and the patient, thus allowing care providers to coordinate and engage patients in the care plan. It should also allow practitioners to manage order; that is, the system should allow care providers to make entry and store orders for prescription, test, and other vital services to reduce duplication and facilitate order execution speed. Additionally, the EHR system eases clinicians' decision-making process; it provides notifications that improve compliance with clinical practices [1]. Finally, the system also enables accessible electronic communication and connection between practitioners and patients [2].
* Integration of Practice Management System
Unlike the electronic health record system that focuses majorly on clinical tasks, the practice management system focuses on the healthcare system's administrative [4]. Based on the fact that the two systems are not centered on similar functions, both are essential to the private family medicine practice's operation. Therefore, it is possible to integrate the existing practice management system with EHR, but it could benefit both care providers and patients. Notably, when the EHR and practice management systems are integrated, data sharing in the healthcare setting becomes easy between the two systems, allowing the administrators and clinical staff instant access to any information they need [4]. Integration of practice management enables streamlined coordination between the various departments of a healthcare system.
In recent times, the healthcare system has experienced a significant shift towards achieving a value-based healthcare system. Thus the need to integrate a practice management system with electronic health records. An integrated system enhances interoperability, improving operational procedures' efficiency in a healthcare setting [5]. The system allows all the staff in a healthcare setting to access information such as a generated report about the number of patients seen, workflow performance, and problems relating to patient flow, and trends in revenue generation [5]. Finally, integrating a practice system enables physicians to look at both medical records and revenue trends concurrently, evaluating services with the most profits.
More facilities, both public and private, are moving away from paperwork to adopt an electronic health records system [6]. The adoption of EHR in private practice has significant benefits and advantages to both the practitioners and patients.
* Increased quality of care- Electronic health records system enables the exchange of complete patient health information. Provision of accurate and updated health information usually results in improved quality of care [7].
* Helping physicians improve efficiency and productivity– EHRs allows for centralized chart management and fast access to patient data with problem-specific inquiries anywhere [7]. The system enables interdisciplinary communication within the healthcare system, reducing occurrences like lost messages and the need for follow-up calls. Therefore, it saves time for practitioners, thus using time saved to be productive.
* Reduced medical errors – EHRs reduce the issue of lost or misplaced paper files and eliminates data errors likely to occur during transcription [7]. With EHRs, patient data is documented and regularly update during every visit; therefore, limiting medical error occurrences.
* Prescription capability - EHRs allow for electronic prescriptions, enabling physicians to communicate with pharmacists directly, saving time, and limiting prescription errors [7]. Similarly, electronic prescriptions improve patient safety, as it automatically checks for potentially dangerous drug interactions [7].
Healthcare facilities encounter challenges when implementing electronic health records systems. For example;
* Implementation and usage cost –Implementing EHR in private family practice entails hardware setup, software cost, hiring implementation assistance, staff training and maintenance, and paying for continuing network fees [8]. Therefore, sourcing financial resources to implement EHRs is challenging to family medical practice.
* Limited technical resources–Implementing EHRs requires a facility to have an in-house technical team and appropriate hardware to equip the system [8]. However, this may be a challenge to private family medicine practice as they lack adequate resources to create an in-house technical team and purchase necessary hardware.
* Project Planning and Management
Successful implementation of an EHRs system in a healthcare facility entails a five-phase procedure mentioned by Claudine Beron; the phases are; initiation, planning, execution, control, and closing phase [9]. Foremost, during the initiation phase, a team of stakeholders and experts will be selected to select the right EHRs. It will entail researching the suitable EHRs and testing for their feasibility before their implementation. During this phase, stakeholders such as practitioners and patients will help decide if implementing EHRs is necessary. The staff and other stakeholders will be trained about the EHRs and their intended purpose before implementation. Finally, during the initiation phase, the staff Technology skill set will be evaluated.
Secondly, in the planning phase, the selected projected team will be tasked with the responsibility of designing work plan, scheduling time and cost of activities, identifying project risks, designing appropriate communication pathway, as well as developing a budget for required resources, and verifying staff training schedules [9].
The execution and control phase of project management is done concurrently. During these phases, the project team will be expected to conduct, coordinate and manage the continuing activities like staff training and software installation. They should also monitor project milestones by conducting quality assurance checks and identify potential risks that might trigger a contingency plan when unnecessary [9].
Finally, the project closure phase will be performed when the EHRs project objectives have been achieved. It will entail reviewing the EHRs with all the stakeholders, documenting lessons learned during implementation, preparing the final report, and completing contract EHRs vendors' closeout [9].
Patient health information privacy and security are the primary concerns hindering the adoption of EHRs in most healthcare facilities [10]. Because of the risks of patient and hospital data breaches, various security measures such as firewalls, antivirus software, intrusion detection software have been adopted to protect electronic data. However, it is essential to note that the implementation of EHRs does not change the HIPAA security rule regarding patient health information privacy and security. The HIPAA security rule encompasses electronically protected health information (ePHI), and requires the implementation of three categories of safeguards; administrative, physical, and technical [11].
* Strategies for Disaster Recovery
Events such as power failure and internet crashes can prevent a practitioner from accessing patient information, making it challenging to handle a patient. Therefore, to mitigate such disasters' impacts, it is essential to have a disaster recovery strategy such as having an EHR server with a fault-tolerant disk storage system and redundant hardware. Also, there should be an off-site server to back up the data in case of power shortage or data loss. Further, the service providers should have appropriate data backup and ensure they work ...

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