Advance Patient Care and Reduce Healthcare Costs with an Integrated Patient Record

The healthcare industry is adopting electronic health records at a faster clip than ever before, according to "A Record of Progress on Health Information Technology," a fact sheet from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) that details health information technology growth emanating from the HITECH provisions of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Consider the following: As of March 2013, more than 75% of eligible hospitals and 44% of eligible professionals had received incentive payments for their meaningful use of electronic health records. 

Despite this progress, however, paper still prevails, according to a research report from IDC Health Insights, a research-based advisory and consulting services firm located in Framingham, Mass. In fact, according to IDC, 38% of documents used in healthcare today are paper-based and content from 31% of those documents is retyped into a computer. In addition, 62% of healthcare workers say that paper volume either increased or remained flat over the past year (see The Integrated Patient Record: Empowering Patient-Centric Care).

The current conundrum: Even though healthcare organizations are adopting EHRs, end users are not getting the complete picture on their computer screens.

"Depending on your country of origin, typically less than 50% of a patient's health information is available in an electronic format," says Daniel Pidutti, Senior Director of Healthcare Solutions, EMC Information Intelligence Group, Pleasanton, Calif.  "Despite investments in electronic health record systems, healthcare is still highly dependent on paper.  This has created a scenario where volumes of valuable health information are locked in numerous systems and document repositories, in multiple formats, without easy access or facility for electronic sharing. What is needed is a comprehensive patient information strategy that facilitates sharing and access of both clinical and administrative information across the entire care continuum." 

An integrated patient record can help. An integrated patient record combines structured and unstructured data from multiple disparate systems to provide clinicians with a complete view of patient history, diagnosis and treatment, which they often lack at the point of care. This patient-centric view makes it possible to view all essential information beyond the electronic medical record—regardless of source, location or format—internally throughout an organization and externally across the continuum of care 

To create this integrated patient view, healthcare organizations will need intelligent capture software that allows the use of a wide variety of capture tools from high-volume scanners, multifunction peripherals, desktop scanners, and browser-based tools for a mobile workforce to digitize documents. These data extraction tools can turn content into discrete data that can be processed by healthcare information systems. Digitized images of paper documents as well as images of diagnostic procedures (e.g., x-ray exams or EKGs) should also be included in integrated patient records.  

Developing such an integrated patient view can help organizations move toward more sophisticated and effective data governance. 

"Properly managing patient information is the essence of creating efficiencies and improving outcomes as it improves the information flow that empowers clinicians to optimize care delivery, and at the end of the day, to deliver higher quality healthcare," Pidutti says. 

The EMC Documentum Integrated Patient Record (IPR)—a solution suite that enables healthcare organizations to transform the way they view, access, manage and use patient information—can help create the comprehensive view of information that end-users need. EMC's IPR solution works by uniting fragmented patient information from numerous systems and document repositories, and in multiple formats, and then integrating this information into existing clinical applications for seamless sharing. The result is digitized patient documents and clinical media providing a comprehensive patient-centric view of all relevant patient information that does beyond the electronic medical record. This secure access to all patient information at the point of care enables the processes that deliver the right information, in the right context, to the right person, and at the right time.

"The need to improve access to fragmented patient information is highly significant to prevent the host of problems that it creates, from quality issues to regulatory and privacy concerns. An IPR makes medical record information more secure and complete, and certainly more compliant with Meaningful Use criteria and regulatory restrictions. These realities are not only driving electronic health record (EHR) clinical software adoption related to clinical defined processes, but in parallel, are driving adoption of hospital enterprise document management for secure protection of patient information, from creation to archiving," Pidutti says. 

With an integrated and complete view of patient information, clinicians can then better coordinate and deliver patient care.  

"Having access to complete patient information allows healthcare organizations to do what they do best—focus on patient care. But it also allows them to focus on improving quality or care provided, not because it is the best thing to do for the patient, but because creates efficiencies and optimizes care delivery which in return leads to a healthier bottom line. With complete information at their fingertips, caregivers can better coordinate and deliver the best clinical care. And organizations can work toward eliminating errors and improving quality as clinicians become empowered to confidently make care delivery decisions based on comprehensive patient information," Pidutti says.