Patient engagement with electronic medical records (EMRs) is one of the focal points of Stage 2 Meaningful Use. To continue to qualify for EMR use incentive payments from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), not only will attesting doctors will have to prove 5 percent patient engagement – they’ll also have to meet 17 universally required criteria, many of which are geared toward involving patients more actively with the EMR software and demonstrating that the practice is using the system to provide more patient-centered service.
Luckily, EMRs can save patients time and money, as well as provide conveniences that many might not be aware of. The challenge for doctors will be to effectively articulate those benefits so that patients will become more involved once they understand how EMRs work for them.
Connecting through EMRs
Messaging features are one of the most helpful tools electronic medical records offer for nurturing the patient-doctor relationship.
Physical therapist and EMR expert Nitin Chhoda recently released a statement that focused on the methods by which doctors and physicians can market the software to patients. To win them over, Chhoda insisted, practices must make use of the communications features of EMRs.
“You have to remind them that you can ease their pain, save them money and provide services they need. To do that, you must contact them and follow up to ensure they received your message,” said Chhoda.
Many EMR vendors incorporate secure email and text messaging functionalities into their systems, Chhoda noted. The software thereby enables doctors to reach their patients in ways that are cost-effective for practices and convenient for patients.
Data sharing and security
So far, EMRs aren’t able to easily share information between practices and platforms, which is one of the software’s remaining drawbacks. However, in a recent interview with Newsmax, Arizona-based surgeon Jeffrey Singer, M.D., suggested that this scenario might be changing in the near future, and when it does, it will add another layer of convenience for patients.
“Eventually the goal is to have all of these electronic systems connected. In that way, it’s good because in theory, you could be anywhere and get someone’s medical records. You could be traveling and somehow end up in an ER in a faraway place,” Singer told Newsmax.
However, Singer went on to express reservations about what that circumstance will mean for privacy protection within EMRs. Security continues to be one of the leading points of contention about digital records.
In a recent post for the Credit.com blog, privacy expert Adam Levin pointed out that the ease of access to information the software offers raises concerns about third-party attacks.
“The networked access that makes EHRs so convenient for medical teams also leaves them vulnerable to abuse by hackers and insider thieves,” Levin wrote.
Patients rightfully expect that their private health data will remain secure within their doctors’ electronic health records. Choosing an EMR vendor that offers a secure, cloud-based platform is a way for doctors to prove to patients that they understand and can meet that expectation.
By doing so, practices can use the software to improve both medical records management and patient satisfaction.
This news is brought to you by Medical Mastermind, recently ranked in the top 20 out of 370 electronic medical record (EMR) solutions nationwide.