April 12, 2012
Shahid Shah says, “It’s time for electronic health records (EHRs) to grow up.”
“It’s not just about creating electronic health records and sharing them between doctors,” said Shah, software IT analyst and author of the blog The Healthcare IT Guy.
“Care coordination and collaboration aren’t just about adding patient messaging and simple health records sharing— in fact, care coordination and collaboration must mean managing digital biology and digital chemistry. The new data must be able to assist physicians across patient care teams better understand what is happening inside the patient so physicians can improve health outcomes.”
Shah suggests the electronic health record be used to its full potential instead current hit-or-miss usage.
Electronic health records are now used largely by primary care physicians and any specialists. According to Shah, there are many other applications. In a recent article in Healthcare IT News, Shah described the “patient collaboration maturity model.”
At this point the patient is responsible for much of the collaboration burden. While there is nothing wrong with this method, Shah and other healthcare IT experts say that this stage is utilizing a fraction of what was envisioned with electronic health records. At this point a primary care physician will ask a patient prior to prescribing additional drugs about any medications he or she is taking in order to avoid adverse drug interactions.
“The second step in the patient collaboration maturity model is the point where organizations begin to actively and routinely share electronic records,” Shah said. “Organizations will start by sharing simple records, but they must design systems to move from paper to digital biology and chemistry sharing.”
Connected care is the stage where a primary care physician is able to look at a patient’s electronic healthcare record and ascertain what medications have been prescribed by other physicians.
“This is the first maturity level where patients feel they are the center of the care team,” Shah said.
At the coordinated care level, the patient’s records are available for all physicians, from primary care to specialists. Physicians have immediate access to whatever is needed to care for the patient and assess any health risks.
At the integrated care level, the patient’s electronic health record is seamlessly shared between organizations. All healthcare records are linked to the patient, so the care provider has access to the information. According to Shah, this drastically expands the current healthcare mode. All healthcare providers would have access to the necessary patient information and would be able to track all prescriptions.
“In the final stage of the patient collaboration maturity model, all healthcare providers act as part of a single team and be accountable for the health of the patient both in preventable as well as acute care, Shah said. “Accountable organizations take full responsibility for a patient’s care over time.”