The EHR Window
Health IT is ubiquitous. But “everywhereness” does not represent value. What does dictate the value of any product, service or software is the way people use it. The question providers of Health IT need to be concerned with is how does my product or service add value to the lives of the end-users—the consumers of health care.
As more hospitals and health systems adopt Health IT, especially in the form of next-generation electronic health records (EHRs), providers of care must think critically about how medical professionals and patients are receiving and, even more importantly, reacting to this information. This is important because the more empowered patients feel, the more likely these consumers will be to take on a more active role in their personal health care. EHRs serve as the window of population health and patient engagement. The true value of Health IT lies with engaging patients and care teams. We should stop talking about health care and start thinking about “self-care.”
According to the latest data available from the Centers for Disease Control, there are approximately one billion doctor appointments each year. Out of those one billion visits, the most commonly diagnosed condition is “essential hypertension”—more commonly known as high blood pressure—with no known cause. Here is where the value-add from health IT comes into play. Given the latest in electronic health records, patients can take an active role in working to combat their high blood pressure by doing daily blood pressure monitoring at disparate times of the day, limiting the amount of sodium they are in taking, eating a heart healthy diet and exercising regularly. Think of how different your interaction with a doctor would be if you had the ability to track, in real-time, the efforts you were undertaking to lower your blood pressure.
With the new wearable technologies and even the basic daily reporting options built into these web- and smartphone based applications; patients can log into their medical records and report on what they had to eat that day, how far they walked and their blood pressure readings at various points during the day. With the advent of Health IT, patients have the opportunity to be more informed and active in their own healthcare decisions than ever before. Where the real value comes in is what doctors and patients do with this information.