Electronic Health Records Bring Change

Implementation of electronic health records (EHRs) is bringing a cultural change to daily medical practice operations in the Bay State. The National Center for Health Statistics estimates that 71.2% of Massachusetts office-based physician practices used some kind of EHR in 2011.

For practices that haven’t adopted EHR technology yet, the time is now. EHRs are important for enhancing patient care delivery and collaborating in accountable-care organizations (ACOs) or integrated care networks. In order to adopt EHRs effectively, practices should be aware of several points essential for success.

Evaluate Information Use and Flow: EHR implementation can disrupt a well-functioning system. Before adopting a new system, a practice should evaluate its own existing care system and consider the following questions: What systems are already in place? How is information recorded and exchanged? Who needs what kinds of information? Where do they use it? Once equipped with those answers, practices should be prepared to take the next step.

Find a Compatible EHR: Several key considerations must be made when choosing an EHR, including flexibility, user-friendliness, mobility, and transition support. Flexibility must account for customization of the system, mobility is necessary for sharing patient information throughout the care setting, and transition support ensures a smooth integration of the EHR into the practice’s workflow.

Institute Team-wide Acceptance: Most importantly, groups should ensure that the workplace dynamic is maintained throughout EHR implementation. Teamwork should not suffer at the hands of technological innovation. Therefore, it is paramount that the system sustains the work environment.

EHR use will benefit patients and practices alike. Streamlined data will allow for streamlined care. Not only can patient care be enhanced through EHRs, but practice-wide improvements in communication, productivity, and data utilization can occur as well.

For assistance with EHR implementation or general practice issues, contact the Mass. Medical Society’s Physician Practice Resource Center at (781) 434-7702 or [email protected]. v


Leif Brierley writes about medical-practice issues for Vital Signs, a publication of the Mass. Medical Society. The MMS is the statewide professional association for physicians and medical students, representing more than 24,000 members statewide. The MMS is also a leader in continuing medical education for healthcare professionals throughout Massachusetts, conducting a variety of medical-education programs for physicians and healthcare professionals.

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