The EHR needs to be more electronic
For many years, healthcare organizations all over the country have been transitioning from paper charts to electronic health records. From large hospitals to small clinics, almost everyone has adopted an EHR system to manage the care of their patient population. The shift to an electronic record comes with a number of benefits: increased speed of diagnosis, easier collaboration among care teams, better trending of vitals and test results. One big misconception of this transition is that paper charts and documents are a thing of the past and are no longer a concern.
Paper piles are not a thing of the past
The truth is that even large hospital organizations that have been on EHRs for years still have copious amounts of paper coming through their doors. Many organizations are left with a hybrid electronic system. The documentation that is done within their walls is maintained electronically, but external lab results, or signed consents, or patient records that come from external sources are in paper formats. However, in order to meet HIMSS Stage 7, organizations must essentially be fully paperless. All clinical documents are available in an electronic format within 24 hours of being received. The common method to meet this requirement is to scan these documents into the EHR when they are received. While this may technically satisfy the HIMSS requirement, it is really just creating a digital version of the paper document and nothing more. This creates more of a DPR (Digital Paper Record) than an EHR. The true benefit of having an EHR is that you have electronic data and information, not just digital paper.
Scanning documents into an EHR without doing any additional evaluation of the content of those documents might meet the digital requirement of HIMSS Stage 7, but it still leaves much to be desired. A doctor who is searching through EHR tabs or file locations for a specific lab that was resulted externally is really no different from a doctor who is thumbing through the pages of a paper chart trying to retrieve the same information.
so, what's the solution?
Extract’s platform provides that additional layer of intelligence that converts digital paper into electronic data. When Extract automatically pulls the results off of an external lab document and files them into the same place that all other electronic results are documented, that paper is truly being converted into electronic health data and not just digital paper.
Healthcare organizations should strive for a true EHR and avoid the pitfalls of their records becoming DPRs. The tough transition is from paper to discrete data, not from hard copies to pdfs. Extract makes this transition much simpler and makes the electronic health record more electronic.
About the Author: Eric Davidson
Eric Davidson is a Customer Support Specialist & Project Manager at Extract. He is heavily involved in the design and development of Extract’s data entry interface. Prior to Extract, Eric spent 3 and a half years working in Healthcare IT and learning the ins and outs of EMRs at Epic.