Deeds and other advocates face numerous obstacles, chief among them the disparity between insurance coverage for mental health and physical health treatment. Privacy advocates worry that access to medical records could infringe on patients’ rights and, in some cases, put them at risk by abusers. Despite these broad challenges to the mental and behavioral health system, EHRs offer a good first step toward increasing quality of care and improving patient safety.
The entire U.S. healthcare system has been slow to adopt EHRs. By 2013, three years after the Affordable Care Act was signed into law, 59% of non-federal acute care hospitals had a basic EHR system. The percentage of hospitals with a certified EHR rose from 71.9% in 2011 to 94% in 2013, according to the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information. But only 2% of psychiatric hospitals had at least a basic EHR system by 2012, according to a Health Affairs study.
D'Arcy Gue, co-founder of Phoenix Health Systems, a healthcare IT consulting and outsourcing firm, says growing demand for EHRs "is tied to an expanded patient pool enabled by Mental Health Parity legislation and the Affordable Care Act, among other factors.” She notes that using EHRs allows “physicians to rapidly learn exactly what afflicts their patients, and to provide them with precise, improved care."
Dean F. Sittig and Hardeep Singh provide an overview of the issue in their November 8, 2012, New England Journal of Medicine article. Electronic data, they write, "must be used to help detect, manage, and learn from potential safety events in near real-time." EHRs "can be programmed to automatically detect easily overlooked and underreported errors of omission, such as patients who are overdue for medication monitoring, patients who lack appropriate surveillance after treatment, and patients who are not provided with follow-up care after receiving abnormal laboratory or radiologic tests results.” Further, they write, EHR-specific patient-safety “could relate to the use of the EHR to monitor, identify, and report potential safety issues and events."
An effective EHR provides access to a patient’s complete health information and history. That improves clinicians' ability to diagnose disorders, reduce or prevent medical errors, and improve patient outcomes. ClinicTracker maintains doctors' orders for labs, vitals, allergies, prescriptions, external medications, and general medical information.
Additionally, when ClinicTracker receives a message with an attached Continuity of Care Document (C-CDA) file, it automatically translates the raw information in that file and displays it in a human-readable format as well as a format that can easily be imported into the EHR, making it easy for providers to review external medical data. Finally, ClinicTracker allows clinicians to enter patient diagnoses in one central Diagnosis Assignment form (supporting both ICD-9 and ICD-10 codes). Diagnoses are accessible throughout the patient’s record, allowing providers to see a historical problem list from any area of the system. These tools facilitate instant access to critical patient information.
ClinicTracker's integration with DrFirst delivers a sophisticated digital platform for legend and controlled prescriptions, offering reduced potential for adverse drug events caused by drug-drug/drug-allergy interactions. ClinicTracker also lets providers to configure their own clinical decision support.
EHRs can benefit not only individual patients, but groups of patients by compiling information about the entire population of patients, offering providers a broader look at data. The combination of ClinicTracker's treatment planning, progress tracking, and comprehensive reporting features provides helpful outcome analytics that enable providers to identify trends in effective treatment methods.
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