Electronic Health Records: Functionality

April 24, 2018 | Health System Risk Management


As reliance on health information technology (health IT) deepened, healthcare providers adopted electronic health record (EHR) systems to use, store, and share patient information to improve patient safety and the quality of care provided. The goals of meaningful use of EHR systems were to improve clinical outcomes on an individual and community level, to increase transparency and efficiency, to provide improved data access for research, and to empower patients by providing access to information about their health and healthcare.

According to the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC), "the adoption rate of certified EHRs has increased from almost 72% in 2011 (when this information began to be collected) to 96% in 2015." (US HHS) The 2015 data for provider type is shown in Table 1. 2015 Certified Health IT Adoption Rate by Provider Type.

Hospital Type

IT, Information technology.

Source: Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Health IT Dashboard. Percent of hospitals, by type, that possess certified health IT. 2016 May cited 2018 Jan 9.

Even though nursing facilities were not included in the government incentive program, in 2016, EHRs had been adopted by 64% of skilled nursing facilities (SNFs) to manage patient health data. (Monica "EHR Use")

Health IT offers extraordinary ways to examine, aggregate, and use patient data, which can lead to improved patient care and safety when used to its fullest capability. EHR systems permit patient information to be stored centrally, making that information readily accessible from multiple locations by multiple providers. An increasing number of mobile data applications is available to access patient information.

Medical devices should interface with one another and transmit electronically stored information (ESI), including medical records, orders, and additional patient information; there should be a seamless exchange of information, or interoperability, between systems.

ONC defines interoperability as "the ability of two or more systems or components to exchange information and to use the information that has been exchanged." (ONC "Certification") The National Quality Forum defines interoperability as "the ability of a system to exchange electronic health information with and use electronic health information from other systems without special effort on the part of the user," which is consistent with the ONC definition. ...

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