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How Healthcare Organizations Can Better Manage EHR Data

Today, the widespread adoption of electronic health records (EHRs) is enabling access to health data on a large scale. The majority of physicians in the US are now using either an EHR or an EMR (electronic medical record) system.

However, just as with any other data storage system, a proper data management strategy is highly essential for EHRs to serve their purpose. Managing the wealth of available healthcare data on EHRs allows health systems to personalize treatments, create holistic views of patients, enhance health outcomes and improve communication.

In this article, we will be looking at a few ways healthcare organizations can better manage their EHR data.


1) Ensuring Compliance to HIPAA at all times

In the present-day healthcare market, there’s a lengthening detachment between EHRs and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). The misapprehensions surrounding obligations for HIPAA compliance and EHR usage under the law have put many healthcare professionals in hot water with HIPAA breaches and the resultant violation fines.

HIPAA regulation directs that healthcare organizations must observe national privacy and security standards to safeguard identifiable protected health information (PHI) and its exchange in any form. PHI is any demographic information that can be used to identify a patient. Examples include: dates of birth, names, phone numbers, insurance information, Social Security numbers, full facial photos, and healthcare records among other things. Under HIPAA regulation, EHR data is regarded as PHI since it stores a great amount of sensitive demographic information .

EHR providers, therefore, must remain HIPAA compliant at all times in order to protect their organization from having to face any strict actions and ensure smooth-functioning of the same.


2) Creating a Data Governance Strategy

Health data on EHR systems doesn’t only incorporate patients’ personal and health information, but  financial information as well. A proper data governance strategy is essential to help manage and interpret EHR data and get value from it. 

The University of Wisconsin defines data governance in healthcare as “an organization-wide framework for managing health information throughout its lifecycle- right from the moment a patient’s information is first entered in the system until well after they are discharged”. The lifecycle covers aspects like payment, treatment, outcomes improvement, research, and disease reporting as well as tracking by government agencies such as the CDC. 

To develop a good data governance strategy, healthcare providers must first decide what kind of data they require and how to retrieve it, what issues the data can be used to address, and if the data can provide desirable outcomes.

A good data governance strategy sets out how an organisation can share data with other service providers whilst maintaining compliance with HIPAA and ensuring the safety of patients’ PHI. Such a strategy can then be a tool to enable the use of technology to harness EHR and streamline data collection.


3) Streamlining EHR Data Collection by Leveraging Technology

Ensuring accuracy during medical record documentation is critical for facilitating appropriate care, patient safety, and better care planning. However, physicians are not cut out for EHR data entry tasks, especially in the office setting, where their main focus should be the patient. Even minor errors can compromise care and lead to a wrong decision. To avoid this, healthcare facilities can leverage technological solutions and manage appropriate levels of training. 

Connected IoMT devices can easily be implemented to enter data directly into the EHR system. Similarly, interoperable electronic health records (EHR) can be used since they allow the electronic sharing of patient information between different EHR systems, improving the ease with which doctors can provide care to their patients and patients can move in and out of different care facilities. 

Automation of Integrated Electronic Health Records brings all data—structured and unstructured—into one convenient place. It integrates with your existing EMR and unifies disparate systems to achieve true electronic health record (EHR) integration, making it easier for clinicians to access data.

A more economical option would be that of outsourcing the documentation task to a medical transcription service organization. You can also apply algorithms to validate data for precision and get rid of common mistakes such as duplicate information or discrepancies in billing and procedural codes.


4) Moving Data to a Centralized Cloud Repository

Data fragmentation happens to be one of the primary issues that need to be addressed in healthcare organizations. EHR data includes everything right from patient identifiers, diagnoses, demographics, procedures, medications, vital signs, laboratory results, and utilization events as well as financial records, and pay or information. Bringing all this data under one roof, converting it to a usable format and keeping it structured in a centralized location is critical to improving EHR data management. 

Investing in health IT can make scattered and unrefined electronic data quickly retrievable and  usable. Healthcare organizations looking to do this can easily leverage cloud solutions. 

Cloud-based EHRs not only have the ability to save health systems money, but they are also more secure and promote interoperability. According to a 2019 report published by Global Market Insights Inc, the healthcare cloud computing market is expected to hit $55 billion by 2025 due to its rapid adoption. 

The cost of implementing and maintaining a cloud-based EHR system is much cheaper than an in-house EHR system. Some cloud systems even allow users to pay a lower subscription fee that can be as low as $100 a month. Additionally, the safety and security of patient information is one of the most important aspects of EHR adoption and cloud-based EHRs are a step in the right direction.


5) Investing in Healthcare CRM

Healthcare CRMs combine data from various sources (such as consumer and patient demographics, social, psychographics, behavioral, financial, clinical, website, call center, provider credentialing, etc.) to furnish a complete view of patient activities and habits.

While most EHRs are designed to centralize, consolidate, and provide secure access to patient data, investing in technology solutions like CRMs and medical appointment scheduling systems can help interpret and report on EHR data from various sources including mHealth and social media channels. This can help healthcare providers extract valuable insights from the date to improve patient care and communications.


Closing Words

Although these tips can help overcome the challenges of managing growing EHR data, implementing a data management plan requires having a skilled team of professionals and EHR optimization experts on board.

Make sure you invest in the right resources and these tips will work wonders for your organization!

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Abhi Golhar helps entrepreneurs increase profit margins and command scale with his extensive knowledge of Artificial Intelligence, SaaS and custom software. He has successfully developed and executed performance improvement strategies across a range of B2B and B2C businesses especially in the real estate lending and management industry.

Abhi Golhar

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