Streamlining the Flow

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Three ways integration of Telemedicine and EHRs can impact healthcare delivery.

By Rahul Varshneya

Telehealth is increasingly becoming the most sought-after option for remote patient care in the US. However, the ever-increasing workload on healthcare employees — mostly due to excessive use of health IT — is mounting at a rapid rate too.

Global healthcare experts are trying and testing new technologies and methods to streamline telehealth use into the workflow of physicians, nurse practitioners and other healthcare staff. The integration of telehealth and electronic health record (EHR) technology could easily be the key.

According to one recent report published by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC), close to 96 percent of non-federal acute care hospitals in America now have ownership of an EHR certified by the US Department of Health & Human Services (HHS).

In this piece, we will be exploring a few ways that integration of telemedicine and EHRs can streamline the flow of healthcare delivery and make it accessible across different user groups.

1) Enhancing Overall Patient Experience

For healthcare providers to be able to comprehend how telehealth works, a number of supplemental solutions have to work perfectly in sync with each other. When a provider consults with a patient during a telehealth visit, they require access to the patient’s health records to be able to assess and diagnose the patient’s symptoms accurately and furnish the same care efficiency as an in-person visit.

Integrating telehealth technology with the practice’s EHR system grants providers simple access over the patient’s health records, and gives them the freedom to utilize a familiar system. This greatly aids providers in enhancing the overall telehealth experience of patients.

Launching video/audio consultations directly from existing EHR systems creates simplified and seamless virtual care workflows that reflect the same authenticity as that of face-to-face patient/provider interactions.

Combining the functions of these systems also helps patients understand their diagnoses better. When a patient’s telehealth consultation gets completed, they’ll be able to see a synopsis of their session alongside their medical history, helping furnish context for any new information.

Additionally, when providers integrate their EHR and telehealth systems, they can substantiate patient eligibility before signing them up for a virtual consultation. This ensures providers are reimbursed for their service and time, further mitigating costly delays and confusion in the workplace.

2) Automating Data Entry to Facilitate Greater Efficiency

Automation of patient data entry directly raises the clinical efficiency. Without telehealth and EHR integration, providers have no other option than to enter the same information twice.

This mostly happens as providers create a summary of the telehealth visit after consulting with a patient in a remote setting. If the telehealth model isn’t integrated with the facility’s EHR system, they will also have to enter that same information into the patient’s health records. This further leads to reduced efficiency in the workplace.

Integrating EHRs with telemedicine systems puts an end to the need for duplicate data entries. When providers take note of patient information during a telehealth visit, this information automatically syncs up with the patient’s health record, simplifying the process of entering data. This also lessens the possibility of an error occurring when updating the EHR system, ensuring providers have access to accurate, current information.

3) Improving Clinical Workflows

Integrating telehealth into the EHR system can help providers greatly ameliorate clinical workflows. The majority of telehealth providers now map out solutions that integrate into common EHR systems, which increases interoperability and enhances patient care. This can leave a positive impact, especially during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

When the platforms are entwined, they can streamline patient care in one single workflow. With an integrated telehealth solution, it’s easy for the nurse to interact with the patient and for the front office to get the patient checked in.

“It was more intuitive than when we were trying to utilize other video modalities such as Skype, Zoom, or FaceTime, which are really not designed to be utilized in a clinic space. When we started using this solution, it made our day much easier than before,” said Blue Ridge Medical Group medical director Dillon Miller, MD, in an interview with EHRIntelligence.

Both patients and providers benefit at large from telehealth-EHR integration.

Integrating a telehealth platform into the EHR and patient portal eases documentation. And when patients have easy access to telehealth, it can reduce hospitalization and enhance patient flexibility.

An integrated solution does not require numerous clicks to bounce between video screens and documentation. This decreases cognitive workflow and in turn, reduces clinician burnout.

Closing Words

It wouldn’t be wrong to say that integrated telemedicine systems are set to be the future of healthcare and EHR integration is the key to successful telemedicine-based care delivery.

There are numerous stereotypes and custom options already available in the market at present. As a provider looking at integrating the two solutions to form a more streamlined system, you only need to think about what is going to suit the requirements of your practice and your patient-base the best.

Remember, a solution can only be as effective as you want it to be. So do your research and choose wisely.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Rahul Varshneya is the co-founder and president of Arkenea, a digital health consulting firm. Rahul has been featured as a technology thought leader across Bloomberg TV, Forbes, HuffPost, Inc, among others.

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