Consumer experience and operational efficiency steer the evolution of EHRs
By the beginning of the next decade, electronic health record (EHR) systems should help hospitals and healthcare entities provide better experiences for consumers and clinicians, according to a study conducted by the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions. The survey explored how EHRs can contribute to better health outcomes, enhanced patient-clinician connections, extension of services to patient populations, and improved stakeholder access to relevant data. Although 70% of respondents were satisfied with their organization’s current EHR, they acknowledged the evolution of EHRs would help them meet future needs.
Evolution of EHRs: Trendlines
More than half of survey respondents signaled interest in adopting tools to improve the consumer experience. Consumer-specific EHR capabilities attracting the most investment attention were integrated communication tools (e.g., telehealth and messaging), followed by online appointment scheduling, and virtual registration and demographic collection.
From a core technology standpoint, respondents indicated emphasis on adopting artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) within the EHR platform. They also recognized benefits of moving their EHR to the cloud—most notably gains in redundancy and fallback protection, as well as scalability.
Overall, healthcare leaders expect the evolution of EHRs to integrate patient health records and device data (e.g., wearables) while connecting multisite care locations. Additionally, AI and ML will support clinicians and consumers in collaborative decision-making. Further, traditional episodic care will transition to increased monitoring of wellness activities and treatment plans. Finally, improved interfaces will streamline consumer navigation related to scheduling, insurance coverage, and billing.
While traditional EHR vendors are likely to offer some advanced capabilities, specialized solutions “will likely stand out, compared to companies that try to do everything,” the Deloitte report advised.
With the evolution of EHRs, healthcare organizations should prepare for future capabilities in the following areas:
- Clinical workflows. Analyze care delivery workflows to find opportunities where emerging technology can improve efficiency and clinician satisfaction.
- Consumer interaction. Identify and address unmet needs when consumers seek information or response from your health system.
- Administrative tasks. Front- and back-office activities handled manually or that don’t add value to processes should be automated or eliminated.
- Vendor collaboration. Assess whether your EHR vendor’s plans for embedding technologies such as machine learning and AI will meet your organization’s priorities and timeline.
- Strategic planning. Work with technology partners who can assist with pilot and iterative testing of new capabilities and how automation will impact real-world workflow.
Frank Irving is a Philadelphia-based content writer and communications consultant specializing in healthcare and technology.