Electronic Health Record Trends
In the healthcare field change is the only constant. The last ten years of healthcare reform have seen more change than ever before. In 2009 as a part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, a federally mandated switch to fully electronic health records (EHR) was launched. The goal of the switch to EHR was to have more accurate, comprehensive, and updated patient medical records across the healthcare industry. In the first couple of years following the massive change the industry was, and still is, working out effective EHR methods and trends. Here we will discuss some current EHR insights and trends that can directly impact medical billing and coding technicians so students can stay on top of the industry while working to complete their education.
A major benefit of the industry-wide EHR switch is patients’ ability to be more involved in their own health and physician communication. This benefit has proven successful as evidenced by the increasing use of patient portals. Between 2014 and 2015 patient portal use increased by 26 percent. Roughly half of all physicians now offer patient portals, and many more are predicted to follow. Portals allow patients to access personal health records (PHR) and effectively communicate with their physicians. Payment is also streamlined through portals. Healthcare facilities and insurance providers can send billing information, reminders, programs, and other materials to patients. For medical billing and coding technicians, this means more organization, more communication, and better accuracy.
Video conferencing is nothing new, yet it is still providing new value, particularly to healthcare. HD video communication combined with EHR offers a relatively new approach to patient interaction. With telemedicine and EHR, physicians can address patient concerns from anywhere at any time because it is all done digitally. There are numerous benefits to telemedicine, including:
- Care to remote and homebound patients, especially the growing senior population
- Reducing healthcare costs and providing flexibility to providers
- Better communication for patients, especially those with urgent questions
- Eliminating the risks of infections and additional illnesses in clinical care settings
Telemedicine additionally allows medical billing and coding technicians to keep more accurate and updated patient records because they can be updated immediately after a video conference between physicians and patients.
Cloud, Data, and Security
As more medical facilities switch over to mandatory EHR, and more EHRs are stored on cloud-based servers, the risk of data breaches from cyber-attacks drastically increases. Healthcare is already one of the most targeted industries for cybercrime, even before the EHR switch. With immeasurable amounts of confidential, highly valuable data stored on cloud technology, cybersecurity is more relevant now than ever. The responsibility of securing EHR data falls on both healthcare organizations and EHR vendors. Experts suggest that the most important things healthcare organizations can do to prevent data breaches is to firstly ensure that they are on the same page as EHR vendors (vendors are the companies that provide EHR systems). This includes data back-up plans and suitable encryption security for all systems. The other most important security measure is for healthcare organizations to provide substantial training for those handling patient records – the medical billing and coding technicians. A large percentage of security flaws begin and end with personnel errors. Medical billing and coding technicians must be trained and updated on all EHR security measures, as well as HIPAA regulations. While EHRs make healthcare more accurate, efficient, and cost-effective, there is also a huge criminal risk.
Future medical billing and coding technicians will start preparation for best EHR-handling practices at EBI. Proper training will help eliminate the risks of cybercrime as well as help make the EHR switch do what it was intended to do – provide more accurate, streamlined, convenient, and excellent healthcare for all.