Future of Electronic Health Record: EHR Trends in 2020

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An Electronic Health Record or EHR is a digital version of the paper records we are used to seeing for patients. These records are significantly more effective for patients and healthcare practitioners for a variety of different reasons. One of the primary benefits is that information is updated in real-time and is available instantly to all users authorized to view the data.

EHRs provide details about the medical history of a patient as well as the treatment plan catered to them. EHR systems are more complex, and in addition to patient information and data, they help carers build a solution that provides a more complete picture.

EHRs are a crucial component of telemedicine, and with the ability of information transferal between healthcare providers and specialists, they provide all parties involved with a comprehensive picture of a patient’s health and wellbeing.

5 Trends To Look Out For With EHR in 2020

Technology changes rapidly, and while electronic health records are becoming ever more entrenched daily, some innovations are coming that could make them even more useful and practical.

1. Blockchain and EHR

Blockchain is perhaps most well known as the technology behind cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and others. However, blockchain can also be used with EHRs. Blockchain is, in fact, already being used in healthcare in several different areas. Some examples include the use of blockchain to prevent health insurance fraud and also for the validation of results from clinical trials.

Blockchain can even be combined with smart contracts so that based on specific results, appropriate actions are taken without needing a human to get involved. The integration of blockchain and EHRs is still in its infancy; however, we have already successfully deployed a solution that incorporates the technology, as you can see in our case study. Our solution combines confidentiality, security, and scalability and improves communications between healthcare providers and their patients.

EHR systems in 2020 and what the future holds

Building a blockchain-based EHR might be a solution you are considering. If it is and you do not have the skills in-house to deploy a solution that works, you might want to consider utilizing an outsourcer for the work. Skilled and knowledgeable outsourcers like NIX understand the sensitivity of patient information, and they have policies and processes in place to protect this knowledge.

2. The Impact of 5G Networks

5G networks are set to take the world by storm when fully turned on. They are currently being deployed in many regions around the world. The increased speed is expected to impact almost every facet of our life. With 5G speeds, technologies like autonomous vehicles and smart cities become possible as a start, but the implications for healthcare practitioners are not as rosy.

While 5G technology offers speeds that are nearly 100 times faster than existing 4G wireless speeds, healthcare is not ready for it. Currently, medical records are scattered across doctor’s offices, clinics, and hospitals. These records could be scans and photos, simple lab results, or even notes from a scheduled visit. Each of these records is different and, at times, incompatible. In addition, even when documents are already in EHR formats, often, the various EHR systems cannot communicate.

Like the VHS and Betamax stand-off in media in the 1980s, a similar confrontation exists with EHR providers. While one company is currently dominant, there are others attempting to become alternatives. The dominant vendor is trying to force all other companies to use their format, but this is a battle that is still ongoing. Until a standard is agreed upon, 5G networks will bottleneck at the border between different systems.

3. Improve Patient Engagement

Patients are the lifeblood of any healthcare facility, but communication needs to be bidirectional. Messages need to flow from doctor to patient and patient to the medical facility in a seamless manner. There are many benefits to EHRs, and one of the primary ones is ownership of information. One area that EHRs can help is through the incorporation of data from wearables and other smart devices. These technologies are a component of telemedicine, and their use improves patient tracking and diagnosis.

EHR systems in 2020 and what the future holds

EHRs can also be used to distribute information to patients. Patient reminders for appointments can be sent via text, or email helping reduce the normal cancellation rates that facilities experience. Patients can also be directed to a portal for information on test results helping keep them informed at all times and in real-time.

4. Mitigating EHR Errors

For all the benefits that accrue through the use of EHRs, sadly, they are not infallible. The ECRI Institute released its 2020 report, and EHR systems were called out several times in the report. One key issue highlighted was the potential for healthcare providers to become inundated with notifications and alerts from the EHR system. This flood of notifications could impact the provider’s ability to differentiate between an actual issue and otherwise.

Other issues mentioned include patient implants not being disclosed when patients are sent for imaging as there is no standard location for implant data to reside on an EHR. Similarly, ECRI indicated that EHR mistakes could occur with the delivery of medication itself if medication administration and times do not match.

5. Combination of Artificial Intelligence and Voice Recognition with EHR

When it comes to technology, AI has already started to demonstrate its worth in the medical profession. With its ability to analyze copious amounts of data quickly and recognize the patterns and trends within that data, AI can promptly provide doctors with suggestions for clinical diagnosis. Companies are now looking for ways to integrate voice capabilities with AI to expand their abilities further.

By querying an AI system through natural language, doctors could request specific information about a patient. AI systems would review information on the EHR and also compare that to expected results, quickly advising doctors about any health implications. The ability to use voice systems in combination with AI will only serve to improve further a doctor’s ability to multitask and make them even more efficient.

The Future of EHR

There have been many positive benefits that patients and healthcare providers have realized due to the implementation of EHRs. However, there is still work ahead that needs to happen to make them as useful as possible. 

  • Customization – One area that needs to be addressed is that of customization. Currently, different EHR vendors use different formats and placement of information. Until a standard is agreed upon across the whole industry, offices can only send PDFs between each other. Transmitting EHRs from one healthcare provider to another on a different system is simply a digital version of faxing and does not really improve service.
  • Privacy – Patient privacy and security are two significant concerns for any organization considering a transition to EHRs for patient records. Fortunately, most EHR systems provide audit trails, so understanding who has accessed information can be tracked. This does not address the lack of patient data control and the current gap in legislation around privacy. Some strides forward are being made with the HIPAA and HITECH Act, however.
  • NLP and EHRs – The transition to Natural Language Processing (NLP) will help improve the way healthcare professionals and patients interact with EHRs. By transitioning to a system that can understand and work with natural language AI systems can better utilize data and improve a doctor’s efficiency.

Conclusion

Healthcare providers need to ensure that they have access to the right patient information at all times, and EHRs are a considerable step forward in this fight. While there are still some improvements to be made, the move from paper with hard to read doctor’s squiggles to a digital format that can be quickly and easily transferred from office to office is a technological leap forward.

NIX has extensive experience in developing EHR. One of our most successful cases was based on a private permissioned blockchain platform. The NIX team had a challenging task to create, and confidentially maintain, health info about a patient when there are several independent participants in the process: hospital – parents – elementary school. Read the details about this case and its technical aspects in our Medium account and find out more about other NIX healthcare projects on our website

For organizations looking to embrace this technology and understand how best to use other features of telemedicine in their operations, contact us. At NIX, we know and understand regulations like HIPAA and can implement services in a way that improves the experience of end-users. We see the value of transparency between patients and healthcare providers. Our team is able to work with you to design a product that meets your needs and requirements so that you can best compete in the healthcare market. Our solutions will ensure that you provide a better and more comprehensive solution to your patients while saving cost and time. Contact us for more information and to discuss how we can help you with EHRs and EHR systems.

Author bio: Natalie Tkachenko, Healthcare Software Solutions Consultant at NIX. With more than 3 years of practical experience, Natalia helps CIOs of Medical companies, CTOs and Founders of agile Healthtech startups build technology solutions that make medical practice better and leverage digital transformation to meet patients expectations.