Electronic Health Records – A solution for patients, healthcare providers, and healthcare organizations

September 13, 2022
September 13, 2022
Benefits of Electronic Health Records Blog Image - healthcare worker with iPad

It may seem like the electronic health record (EHR) has been a part of healthcare for quite some time and it actually has been around since the 1960s when the Mayo Clinic became the first major health system to adopt the use of EHR. However, EHR really did not gain traction in healthcare until the 1990s when the technology that would support the use of EHR, along with widespread Internet access, became more common in healthcare facilities. Within the last 10 years it has become essential for high-quality patient care and regulatory compliance.

The Electronic Health Record – Essential for Optimal Patient Care

While it may have originally been seen as expensive and impractical in the 1960s, it is now essential to patient care. The now-famous 1999 study, “To Err is Human: Building a Safer Health System"1 broke the silence on medical errors and drew attention to the processes and systems (rather than the people) that contributed to the shocking statistics on medical errors. The EHR is strongly associated with safer patient practices related to workflow, policy, communications, and cultural practices.2

EHR provides significant benefits for patients.

  • Patients can feel confident in their providers and their diagnoses knowing that the EHR is facilitating communication between providers and facilities and across various services.
  • A lack of coordination in care can be apparent (and frightening) to patients. The EHR can help patients and providers feel more confident about the safety of new medications and the accuracy of new diagnoses and can help them feel confident that they are receiving safe, high-quality care. 
  •  The streamlined nature of EHR means that patients and providers can have better communication based on accurate, up-to-date and relevant data.
  • Until recently, the cost of healthcare services was relatively invisible to patients, but recent changes mean that patients could become more aware of healthcare costs. The efficiencies created by reductions in paperwork and better workflows could potentially result in lower costs.


The Electronic Health Record – Essential for Healthcare Providers

Much has been written about the benefits of the EHR for patients, but there are significant benefits for healthcare providers too.

  • Providers strive to offer coordinated care, but the how-to of coordinated care can be a challenge as it is very much dependent on having information that is tracked across multiple services and locations. The EHR puts all of a patient’s relevant information in one place for fast, secure access by providers. 
  • The EHR also facilitates collaboration among providers across specialties and locations. Case management becomes more streamlined and efficient resulting in a better bottom line.
  • The EHR also helps to lower risks to providers and healthcare facilities by reducing medical errors. Information about medications, test results and patient histories are readily accessible to the entire patient care team making medication and treatment errors more unlikely.
  • EHR leads to greater efficiency and cost-savings. Digital records do not rely on transcription, physical storage of paper records and, in some cases, coding and claims management; thereby substantially reducing administrative costs and shortening the revenue cycle.
  • The efficiencies created by the use of an EHR system can improve the quality of work-life balance for staff who save time when they no longer have to look for information in multiple locations or order duplicate tests for patients.    
  • EHR results in big data which can then be aggregated and used by healthcare organizations to make decisions about how to best use resources to meet the healthcare needs of the communities that they serve. The data can also be used to spot emerging healthcare trends and the emergence of potential outbreaks of disease. Facilities can also use it to develop forecasts to help inform staffing and workflow decisions – perhaps one of healthcare’s most persistent challenges.

Kohn LT, Corrigan JM, Donaldson MS. To err is human: Building a safer health system. Washington, DC: National Academy Press; 1999.
Tanner C, Gans D, White J, Nath R, Pohl J. Electronic health records and patient safety: co-occurrence of early EHR implementation with patient safety practices in primary care settings. Appl Clin Inform. 2015 Mar 11;6(1):136-47. doi: 10.4338/ACI-2014-11-RA-0099. PMID: 25848419; PMCID: PMC4377566.