In their paper, Holmgren, Patel, Charles and Adler-Milstein cite an earlier work by Jha and colleagues (Jha et al, 2009) which identifies the features of a comprehensive electronic health record (EHR). The appendix in this paper lists the questions that are used to assess the of an EHR.
Holmgren et al’s paper looks at the issue of interoperability which in turn is relevant to the Health Information Exchange (HIE).
Patient records are central to the delivery of healthcare and serve a number of functions including the recording of clinical assessments and interventions. Aggregated data is also utilised at a local and national level to inform commissioning.
Electronic Patient Records
The digitisation of patient records offers a number of advantages over paper based records. These advantages include automated backup of records, reduced use of physical storage space (since paper based notes are switched to servers), off-site access to records using mobile devices and the potential to develop analytical clinical support tools which use computers to process clinical data to help improve clinical decisions. Not all healthcare services have electronic patient records but most providers are moving in this direction.
Getting Electronic Patient Records to Talk to Each Other
When patients move between healthcare providers – for instance between primary care and the hospital – they may find that one provider does not have information that the other provider has. There are many providers and many electronic paper record systems. For two systems to talk to each other they have to solve a number of problems. When these problems are solved a patient can move between providers and healthcare information can be accessed by the different providers. A key solution to this problem of health information gaps is the Health Information Exchange (HIE).
The Health Information Exchange
There are many definitions of what a Health Information Exchange is. (Hersh et al, 2015) define a HIE as follows:
‘Health information exchange (HIE), the electronic sharing of clinical information across the boundaries of health care organizations’
Whilst this definition is simple, the process of sharing clinical information between healthcare organisations is technically complex and encompasses a range of software, hardware and governance issues. The process of helping systems to talk to each other is helped by the development of standards. A set of standards is outlined in the NHS interoperability framework.
Ashish K. Jha, M.D., M.P.H., Catherine M. DesRoches, Dr.Ph., Eric G. Campbell, Ph.D., Karen Donelan, Sc.D., Sowmya R. Rao, Ph.D., Timothy G. Ferris, M.D., M.P.H., Alexandra Shields, Ph.D., Sara Rosenbaum, J.D., and David Blumenthal, M.D., M.P.P. Use of Electronic Health Records in U.S. Hospitals. N Engl J Med 2009; 360:1628-1638 April 16, 2009
Links to Other Posts in the Health Information Exchange Series
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