Why is Patient-centric Care in an Urgent Need for a Solution Beyond EHRs?

Abhinav Shashank
Tue 11 September 2018

Thanks to certain incentives from the U.S. government over the past few years, electronic health records (EHRs) permeated in healthcare fairly easily. Fewer than two out of 10 physicians used EHRs back in 2001, and the number rose to six out of 10 in 2011. According to ONC’s Health IT Dashboard, 86.9% of physicians had adopted some kind of EHR by 2015. Additionally, the digitization of healthcare primarily using EHRs has resulted in improved patient safety and care quality.

Yet, EHRs are not enough. EHRs may be the prime application at the point of care for physicians and excellent systems of records in healthcare, but they are not enough. EHR adoption will continue to grow and with it, improved access to critical clinical information would be necessary to form a complete picture of the patient. EHRs could be the treasure trove of clinical information for a patient, but they need to be supplemented with other data sources to manage the minute-to-minute aspects of patient-centric care delivery.

Holistic patient profiles: the foundation of patient-centric care

In efforts to improve health outcomes and control the skyrocketing costs, healthcare organizations are increasingly focusing on improving patient care and services. The close coordination and access to updated patient records are the foundation of collaborative, value-based care. This enables physicians to focus their efforts and converge all the network resources on one individual patient, while also eliminating redundancies or unnecessary tests and procedures.

More importantly, a holistic patient profile would be physicians’ first avenue to collaborate their efforts and coordinate treatments so they can together offer patients more holistic care that promotes care better.

Gathering different bits of data

Several studies and healthcare experts point out that the depth and breadth of clinical data are potentially far greater than the conventional claims data care management and population health analytics solutions use. Usually, EHRs are considered to be the only source of clinical data for a patient. While they could be the prime source, EHRs are definitely not the ‘only.’

Lab data

Having more touch points with patients than any other setting in healthcare, labs drive more than 70% of clinical decisions:

  • Providers can leverage lab data to identify how is the population responding to existing care programs.
  • Insights from the lab data can be relayed back to physicians tasked with preventive care.
  • Additionally, decision-makers can delve deep to identify areas of opportunities and drill down to identify the sources of poor quality of rising costs.

Claims data

In most cases, healthcare providers leverage claims data at hand for care management and population health management. When combined with clinical data, claims could be a great source to provide an overview of the list of procedures done, providing deep insights into how the population health resources are being utilized.

  • The integration of claims data could help providers determine how a patient at risk of a chronic condition could be falling through their medications and needs attention.
  • Claims data with clinical data could also help providers identify if there are any underlying risk factors which could have a significant impact on the patient health in the future.
  • Additionally, as clinical data is verified by providers, it would take less time and effort to attest to specific medical conditions for an individual patient and accelerate proactive care interventions.

Patient-generated health data

Data generated by patients, through wearables, fitness trackers and even questionnaires, personal health records can help patients become more engaged in their care.

  • Patient-generated health data provides real-time access to data about a patient’s health- outside the clinical settings.
  • Physicians rely on patient memory to recount activities beyond the clinical setting, and these inconsistencies can be eliminated with apps and wearables keeping an accurate track.
  • Providers can invite patients to read, review, and contribute to their health and enhance engagement.

Realizing the golden possibility with patient data

From doctors’ notes and EHRs to prescriptions and claims data, healthcare is full of tangible and concrete sources of information. To provide a more holistic picture of patients as well as populations, healthcare needs something that makes positive correlations based on in-depth analysis of varied data sources.

Precision medicine is one example of this venture. It considers individual variability in the genes as well as considers the social and behavioral factors for each patient and creates a targeted care plan for the patient. Compared to the conventional methods of ordering lab tests or recommending standard procedures, precision medicine focuses on physicians considering the role of a patient’s genetic makeup. With precision medicine, physicians and caregivers can accommodate the specific needs of a patient and adjust their treatment based on their unique genetic profiles.

Even if this sounds far-fetched, there’s a fundamental step to it, and that is a complete patient profile. Finding all six million letters of a patient’s genome sequence comes after physicians leverage all available data sources. This can only go live if the patient profiles are complete, and the data at hand is not restricted to the memory of an EHR.

The road ahead

When it comes to healthcare, every bit counts- every bit of data. While e-commerce websites or entertainment industry leave no stone unturned to deliver a personalized experience to us, healthcare sure needs some boost. It begins with putting together the jigsaw puzzle and working together. The essence lies in collaboration and transparency- the key to delivering care to the entire population on a patient-by-patient basis.


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