Electronic health records have been a contentious but important aspect of the healthcare market for the past few years, but a number of new studies are finding that their implementation can provide a number of new improvements throughout the industry.
Improved patient care
According to The Scranton Times-Tribune, one key example from the technology comes from its ability to improve patient care. Much of this is thanks to the technology's providing of consistent and effective care. When a patient visits a doctor, his or her records will be automatically updated and stored on a database.
The adoption of electronic health records has jumped accordingly in the last decade. From 2007 to 2012, its use expanded from 11.8 percent of doctors' offices to more than 39 percent. As of 2012, nearly 85 percent of acute care hospitals, in particular, have also adopted the technology as well, according to National Center for Health Statistics figures.
Doctors using such systems have noticed a number of other advances. The new approach removes paper filing systems, which can be inefficient. EHRs also help cut down on errors that can be made if handwritten notes are interpreted incorrectly. If an unhealthy combination of medications is noted, the system can also make sure patients remain safe.
Sepsis, mortality can fall
The technology can do more than just streamline medical practices. The National Institutes of Health have also found that even the most routine information that the system can collect, such as blood pressure and respiratory rate, can be used to predict stages of sepsis. Only three measures noted by the technology are enough to help prevent patients from dying as well. Lactate level, and the same blood and respiratory information can determine whether a patient is at risk.
In a study of 741 patients with sepsis at the University of California Davis Medical Center in 2010, researchers were able to find new ways to protect patient health. Vital signs combined with white blood cell counts, which are routinely taken when patients enter a hospital, were found to more accurately predict lactate levels as well as sepsis. Tracking the aforementioned three factors also helped doctors focus their sights on higher risk patients.
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