It’s Time to Adopt an Electronic Health Records System

Electronic health record (EHR) systems are becoming more popular in primary, acute, and specialty care facilities, but skilled nursing facilities and other long-term care centers have been slow to adopt these capabilities. 

In 2016, around 64 percent of SNFs used EHRs to manage their critical patient health information. That number has fortunately risen to 84 percent, but it’s so important that every healthcare organization adopts this technology so they’re able to send and receive patient information as quickly as possible. Studies have shown that failure to implement an EHR system negatively impacts transitions of care, especially with seniors who are moving from a hospital into a skilled nursing facility.

SNFs serve residents that are more at-risk and demand more complex care needs than other patient populations. As a result, these residents have to frequently transition between home, acute care, post-acute care, and long-term care settings. There is so much information being collected at each one of these facilities that coordination, communication, and easy access to data is essential to an individual’s care and recovery. This is where efficient electronic health records come in. 

The reason why SNF adoption rates for EHRs have lagged is twofold, impacted by cost and implementation issues. These barriers are not as much of a concern as they were when the technology was first introduced, however, SNFs and other providers still have a ways to go when it comes to sharing patient data.

Even if a facility has an electronic health record system, that doesn’t always mean it’s used how it was intended to be used to benefit providers and patients. EHRs must be accurate, timely, and usable, and this isn’t always the case. In some instances, SNFs won’t even receive a patient’s information from their hospital stay until well after the patient is back in the center. Additionally, it’s also important that the information being sent to SNFs and other long-term care centers be quicker to access and analyze. Sometimes hospitals use default discharge summary templates in their EHR systems because they believe it’s too expensive or time-consuming to redesign them, but it would benefit communication and care if these discharge summaries were better tailored to suit skilled nursing facilities and other long-term care centers. 

To help improve the timeliness of sharing patient health information, providers can also be motivated by positive feedback or a reward system to ensure that data is sent immediately to the appropriate channel following a discharge or care update. 

Electronic health records are essential to patient care, and must be adopted across the entire healthcare industry. Additionally, these systems must be timely and efficient to ensure that there are no gaps in managing and transferring patient health information. A person’s care journey is dependent on a number of providers, all of whom must be able to quickly communicate and collaborate together to bring about better outcomes.