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Electronic Health Record Ambulatory Case Case Study

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Updated: Dec 11th, 2020

Introduction

The case study on empanelment in an ambulatory care facility provides an excellent example of the value of electronic health records in this context. Despite the substantial financial investment, the results of the project were highly positive, particularly in terms of the continuity of care and patient satisfaction. The present paper will seek to outline the benefits and drawbacks of EHR use in the case and provide recommendations for ambulatory care facilities seeking to implement EHR in their work processes.

Uses, Advantages, and Disadvantages

As shown in the case, the primary use of EHR data in outpatient care settings is to promote the continuity of care. The Wright Center (2015) explains that to encourage the continuity of care, the facility created a project to ensure that each patient receives care from the same team of providers. As a result of this project, the facility achieved a higher continuity of care and increased patient satisfaction scores (The Wright Center, 2015). To achieve these goals, EHR data was used, including physicians’ scheduling, patient history, and past appointments. Therefore, one of the key advantages of EHR is the enhanced quality of care, which leads to the financial stability of the organization.

The information included in EHRs can also be used to enhance the accuracy of diagnoses and to ensure the effectiveness of prescribed treatment. According to the Wright Center (2015), EHRs included information about patients’ vaccinations, smoking, exams, blood pressure, and current medications. This data enables providers to obtain a full picture of each patient’s health status without performing in-depth tests or exams during each visit. Studies support the view that EHRs help to generate patient problem lists, collect and maintain clinical notes, and provide decision-making support (DesRoches et al., 2008). Hence, other significant advantages of EHR data use include enhanced workflow, greater operational efficiency, and reduced incidence of medical errors, such as incorrect prescriptions.

Although the use of EHR typically yields significant benefits for care providers and organizations, there are still some drawbacks of EHR data that can be observed in the case and practice. As noted by the Wright Center (2015), to apply health IT data successfully, it is critical to address issues such as the duplication of information, scheduling overlaps, and similar problems. Thus, organizations might need to spend considerable resources on ensuring that there are no errors in EHR records. Additionally, EHR data might influence practice style and physician’s behaviors during patient appointments.

For example, McAlearney, Hefner, Sieck, Rizer, and Huerta (2015) found that some physicians prefer filling in patient information after the appointment to focus more on the patient and their concerns. EHR data requires logging during the appointment, and thus reduces care providers’ flexibility while also distracting them from patients.

Strategic Advantage

In the contemporary healthcare environment, healthcare institutions need to remain financially stable to withstand competition and political changes. Achieving a favorable financial position, on the other hand, requires a working strategy aimed at retaining existing clients and attracting new ones. Ambulatory EHRs can become advantageous in implementing this strategy due to the benefits it provides. As shown in the report by the Wright Center (2015) EHR use allows ensuring that ambulatory patients receive care from the same team of providers each time they visit a clinic, unless they want to switch to a different physician. Therefore, EHR helps to establish trust between patients and medical professionals, which contributes to retention and improves patient outcomes.

By actively using EHR, ambulatory clinics can also attract new patients due to the improved quality of care. Today, the healthcare sector is very competitive, and patients choose outpatient care providers based on reviews and other information available online. According to studies, the use of EHR helps to increase the quality of services provided in ambulatory clinics (Kern et al., 2012). Existing customers who had a pleasing experience with their clinic can also leave good reviews online, thus assisting the facility in attracting new clients. Therefore, the influence of EHR use on the quality of care provides a strategic advantage to clinics willing to remain profitable and increase the number of new customers.

The arguments used to justify substantial investments in the EHR usually focus on its beneficial impact on care quality and continuity. In the case report, the Wright Center (2015) argues that “the cost of developing and implementing EHR-driven empanelment was nominal in comparison to the value empanelment created” (p. 5). As shown in this paper, the value of EHR implementation comes from its effect on work processes and customer satisfaction. Therefore, it is true that EHR use provides a significant strategic advantage to ambulatory clinics seeking to enhance profitability while maintaining a high quality of care and a patient-centered approach.

Recommendations for EHR Implementation

To avoid barriers to application, ambulatory healthcare institutions need to follow some general process recommendations. Firstly, employee training should be an integral part of the implementation plan. A study by McAlearney et al. (2015) showed that negative attitudes of physicians towards EHR implementation usually stemmed from the struggles to use them correctly. By providing comprehensive training and assistance to employees during the implementation process, organizations can achieve better outcomes and overcome this challenge.

Secondly, organizations should have a separate team responsible for the technological side of the implementation process. This would enable the facility to address technical challenges, such as data inconsistency or operational errors, without delays, thus ensuring that the transition to EHR is as smooth as possible. The final recommendation is to establish clear goals of EHR implementation before beginning the process. This will help the organization to determine if any other EHR-based tools or functions need to be installed. As a result, the facility would benefit from a fully functional EHR technology while also avoiding spending additional efforts and time on related IT projects.

Conclusion

While EHR application is a costly initiative, it has a positive impact on the quality and continuity of care in the facility. Consequently, EHR implementation is a significant strategic advantage for ambulatory clinics in the contemporary healthcare environment. To avoid potential challenges associated with EHR implementation, organizations should provide sufficient training to employees and define the goals behind the process. They should also ensure that a skilled team is available to oversee and support the project.

References

DesRoches, C. M., Campbell, E. G., Rao, S. R., Donelan, K., Ferris, T. G., Jha, A., … Blumenthal, D. (2008). Electronic health records in ambulatory care — A national survey of physicians. The New England Journal of Medicine, 359(1), 50-60.

Kern, L. M., Barrón, Y., Dhopeshwarkar, R. V., Edwards, A., Kaushal, R., & HITEC Investigators. (2013). Electronic health records and ambulatory quality of care. Journal of General Internal Medicine, 28(4), 496-503.

McAlearney, A. S., Hefner, J. L., Sieck, C., Rizer, M., & Huerta, T. R. (2015). Fundamental issues in implementing an ambulatory care electronic health record. The Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine, 28(1), 55-64.

The Wright Center. (2015). Case study one: The clinical value of continuous and consistent healing relationships with patients and colleagues. Web.

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IvyPanda. 2020. "Electronic Health Record Ambulatory Case." December 11, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/electronic-health-record-ambulatory-case/.

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IvyPanda. (2020) 'Electronic Health Record Ambulatory Case'. 11 December.

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