Improving Patient Safety through the Meaningful Use of Certified EHR Technology

The benefits of EHR (electronic health records) are undeniable and significant.  According to a recent ONC (Office of the National Health Coordinator) presentation at Health IT Week, health providers that implement the principles of meaningful use – including computerized order entry and electronic documentation – report substantially fewer patient safety events and a 52% reduction in adverse pharmaceutical events.

A recent physician workflow survey found that nearly 70% of physicians reported that lab alerts and medication reminders were helpful tools to prevent accidental harm to patients with respect to their prescriptions, with 45% reporting that an EHR feature had alerted them to a potentially hazardous pharmaceutical error. For physicians using an EHR system, 51% reported a positive opinion on EHR alerts and 39% reported that electronic medical records improved clinical communication and care quality.

Further, a study conducted in Pennsylvania indicated that an advanced EHR program contributed to a 27% decline in aggregated patient safety events, a 30% drop in pharmaceutical events, and a 25% decrease in complications associated with procedures, tests and treatments. The study also reported that detailed shared clinical documentation reduced “near miss” situations by nearly a third.

While EHR technology can and does significantly improve care quality and patient safety, HIPAA mandated patient privacy protocols are preventing comprehensive adoption across the health care industry.  This is because the electronic transmission of health care records is subject to stringent IT security requirements to maintain patient confidentiality.

When providers exchange personal health information on a given patient via email, it’s vitally important to have the secure document delivery tools in place to not only protect patient privacy but also avoid legal exposure.

Privacy breaches can cost providers anywhere between $1K and $50K per incident – that’s a hefty fine, and it doesn’t matter whether the neglect was willful or benign. With a secure document delivery solution containing HIPAA compliance features, health care providers are able to leverage the benefits of EHR programs without creating legal exposure around patient privacy protection.

Every physician wants to both deliver the best possible care to their patients and avoid hazardous mishaps associated with medication errors and poor clinical communication and documentation. It’s abundantly clear that EHR systems drastically improve the statistics around care quality and accident prevention. However, without the technology in place to safely facilitate communication between care providers via email in accordance with HIPAA compliance requirements, physicians are stuck between a rock and a hard place.

A secure document delivery solution with built-in HIPAA compliance features empower providers to communicate freely and safely with each other to both provide outstanding patient care and mitigate the risks associated with potentially deadly errors and miscommunications.  EHR programs are the wave of the future, and IT privacy protection implementations are the final frontier.

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Posted in Healthcare, HIPAA Compliance

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