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Electronic Health Records (EHR) Digitize Patient Data at an Accelerating Pace, Business and Industry Trends Analysis

There is a strong movement in the United States, the UK, Canada and elsewhere to implement widespread use of electronic health records (EHRs, or sometimes EMRs for electronic medical records).  A major goal in this movement is to create Continuity of Care Records (CCRs), which would ensure that a patient’s health history could be utilized seamlessly by hospitals, primary care physicians and specialists.
Top EHR platforms in the U.S. include Epic, Cerner, Meditech, CPSI, Allscripts, Medhost and athenahealth.  All platforms feature secure log-in where patients can communicate with their care providers, view test results, make payments and schedule appointments.  Workers and physicians within clinics and hospitals have instant access to patients’ records.
Kaiser Permanente HealthConnect links its hundreds of medical offices and Kaiser hospitals, thousands of physicians and millions of members.  Kaiser maintains one of the world’s largest non-governmental digital medical data depositories.
Proponents of EHRs estimate that they could significantly reduce medical errors, save lives and cut billions in medical spending a year in shortened hospital stays, reduced nursing time, savings on unnecessary drugs (or drugs that could dangerously react with medications already prescribed for a patient) and the reduction of redundant lab tests and paperwork.  Physicians, caregivers and researchers could also benefit enormously by tracking clinical data nationwide and learning which treatments are most effective in any given situation.
The Canadian government developed health information projects including telemedicine, EHR, electronic prescription systems, laboratory information systems and diagnostic imaging systems.  This is done via a sophisticated platform called Canada Health Infoway.
Another challenge within healthcare that is being aided through special online tools is filing insurance claims.  There is intense competition in this field.  Billions of transactions occur every year.  Leading software and solutions providers include PLEXIS, Medvision Solutions, RAM Technologies, DataCare and ClickClaims.
While hospitals and other major health care providers adopted digital methods, concerns about the quality of patient care have been voiced.  As a result, caregivers and insurers have combined forces to monitor the changes brought about by the technological boom.  The Leapfrog Group, a coalition of companies and private organizations that provides health care benefits, was created to improve, among other things, the flow of patient data and benchmarks for patient outcomes at hospitals.  Leapfrog has set exacting standards for the health system to strive for in the creation and utilization of digital data. “Leapfrog compliance” is a catch phrase among hospitals, which are rated on the organization’s web site ( with regard to compliance issues such as computerized prescription order systems and statistics on staffing and medical procedure success rates.
In addition to Leapfrog, nonprofit HIMMSS formed the Personal Connected Health Alliance (, which includes partners such as AT&T, Eli Lilly & Company, Philips, Samsung, Cisco Systems, Intel and Qualcomm Life.  PCHAlliance publishes and promotes standards for data exchange to and from personal health devices called the Continua Design Guidelines.
The use of advanced predictive analytics software for the study of patient care outcomes data will attempt to forecast the best possible treatment for specific diseases and ailments.  Patient records are kept in increasingly powerful databases, which can be analyzed to find the history of treatment outcomes.  For the first time, payers such as insurance companies have vast amounts of data available to them, including answers to questions such as:
=         Which procedures and surgeries bring the best results?
=         Which drugs are most cost effective?
=         Which physicians and hospitals have the highest and lowest rates of cure (or of untimely deaths of patients)?
=         What is the average length of stay required for the treatment and recovery of patients undergoing various surgeries?
=         How long should it take for the rehabilitation of a patient with a worker’s compensation claim for a specific type of injury?

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