Why do we have EMRs again?

Why do we have EMRs again? Were they meant to be electronic file folders?  No, they are meant to hold discrete, structured data and add value by summarizing the most valuable data, giving us a more complete picture of a patient’s history, and allowing us to analyze and see trends in the data while automatically alerting us to data outside of allowed values. 

While it is estimated that 80-90% of patient records are still moved around via fax today, there is a growing movement to provide CCDs and records required to referred specialists via referral or patient portals. This allows for faster moving, higher quality documents.

Some referral portals may even offer the option to index the incoming documents attach them to the patient record in the EMR as a part of the process. All of this is a big and positive step in the right direction.

But let’s come back to the reoccurring issue – whether documents arrive electronically via a portal or are scanned in the HIM department and attached to the patient record, at what point do we begin to question the effectiveness of a physician scrolling through 10s if not 100s of attached documents to find a few pieces of valuable information. If naming conventions are not intelligent, then they are scrolling through and opening EACH document to find that key piece of information. Wait time on each document just opening is 10-20 seconds per document. Add another 10-30 seconds for them to orient themselves to the document and find the information they need. Now they jot that down or hold it in their head while scroll further through that 30-page CCD or they find and open the next document.

The better solution is either a fax solution or referral portal that sends the documents to an automated solution to pull the most valuable information out and put it into the EMR before attaching the document as a back-up reference. By saving physicians’ time and making your EMR into a true decision support tool, you are maximizing your patient and physician satisfaction and most importantly, your quality of care.


About the Author: Ellen Bzomowski

With 20 years of experience in data capture and voice recognition, Ellen’s experience has focused on achieving higher efficiency and automation in getting data where it will be most useful to an organization. At Extract Systems, she continues to focus on the same ideas and works to get the word out about how Extract Systems’ advanced data capture and redaction solutions make more data valuable and accessible, while securing anything that is private. She holds an MBA from Northeastern University and lives and works in Boston.