Move to Make EHRs Easier for Consumers to Access

EHRsHealth care providers and technology companies are to take measures to make electronic health records (EHRs) easier for consumers to access and use, according to a Fox News report. With medical transcription integrated into them, EHRs have become an accurate and effective tool for physicians. The current proposal to provide patients with access to their EHRs is expected to further improve the quality of care they receive.

The agreement covers 16 health care technology vendors that manufacture about 90 percent of hospital electronic records currently in use across the nation. Major hospital systems, insurers, the American Medical Association, the American Society of Clinical Oncology and other medical groups are also participating in this venture. The transition to computerized medical records is being supervised by the Health and Human Services (HSS) department office.

According to the report, while most hospitals and physician practices have adopted EHRs, the absence of integration among health care providers limits the usefulness of digital records to patients. This new initiative is aimed at removing technological bottlenecks in the provision of care. The goal is to improve care where it matters the most by making patient data “free and liquid and available”.

The stakeholders have decided to:

  • Improve consumer access to medical records: Patients will be able to easily access their records from one provider and transfer them to another. That second provider would be able to seamlessly import the earlier records into their system. This will remove geographical barriers to care.
  • Stop blocking health information sharing: Last year, the HSS noticed that some health care organizations prevented sharing of information outside their group. The new steps will enhance “direct exchange,” a secure messaging pathway between registered medical providers.
  • Enforce standards to establish secure, efficient digital communications: This will allow communication among different systems across the health care network.

Last year, a small study conducted at the University of Colorado in Denver found that allowing patients to see their medical records while they are in the hospital would make them more engaged in their care, more satisfied, and more likely to ask questions and catch errors.

As patients are given access to their medical information and their records get shared across the system, the role of medical transcription services will become even more relevant. Transcripts are attached to the electronic medical charts and work in conjunction with computerized records to provide a clear and accurate picture of the continuity, quality and consistency of care provided.