Representing nearly half of the healthcare sector, single providers are key players in the healthcare reform. EMRs, initially designed for hospital base use may have proved surplus to the needs of independent practitioners with a smaller patient base. However, with the recent shift towards coordinated care, the healthcare sector is changing quickly and recent trends of EMR adoption amongst solo practitioners have been more than encouraging.
Electronic medical records are phasing out the inefficient paper based record keeping, with built in clinical decision support systems helping providers ensure patient safety and make informed decisions. EMR based data mining is driving population healthcare models and extending the reach of the medical community. Health IT is helping foster a culture of affordable and accessible care. With the nation’s annual healthcare spending expected to reach 4.8 trillion by 2021, reformation is inevitable. But in order to complete this transition, all members of the care community must be on board. This is why the government has been proactive in working with independent providers through Regional Extension Centers (RECs), helping increase awareness while promoting care coordination and restructuring.
While electronic medical records may provide a base for this transformation, the Nationwide Health Information Network (NwHIN) proposed by the ONC is the end goal. Through the help of independent Health Information Exchanges (HIEs) and hospital networks, the government wants to connect everyone across the care continuum, from providers to patients, pharmacies and labs to national disease control and regulation bodies. Creating such an expansive healthcare network will promote preventive care measures while improving clinical outcomes and expanding care outreach.
With the increase in aging populous along with the spread of chronic disease, care continuity is the answer to the woes of healthcare across the nation. While health IT is helping establish a connected care platform, independent providers with limited budgets may still struggle to adapt to the national care system. Where cloud based EMRs have managed to offer some respite to cash stripped practices, cost is still a major hurdle in health IT adoption amongst single providers.