How Can an Accessible EHR Experience Benefit Patients With Disabilities?

There are so many people in the United States living with disabilities who are presented with insurmountable challenges every day due to a lack of universal accessibility. Accessibility is essential when it comes to a patient’s health records. All too often, individuals with disabilities reach roadblocks in their healthcare due to blind spots in medical technology. However, with the continued advancement of electronic health records (EHRs), those with disabilities can be more involved in their personalized health care plans than ever. By improving the EHR experience for those with disabilities, hospitals and doctor’s offices can give their patients more agency.

Improvements to EHR technology have improved two significant facets of the patient experience. First, EHRs can input patient needs for hospital visits and easily disseminate the information to all staff. Second, EHRs make personal health records more accessible by providing more ways for patients with disabilities to refill prescriptions, read test results and message their healthcare providers. These improvements help those with disabilities by enhancing the way that all individuals receive healthcare services.

An Accessible EHR Experience Notifies Medical Staff of Necessary Accommodations Needed in Advance

Recent developments help improve a patient’s EHR experience when visiting their healthcare provider

reading braille sunglasses sweater blindness teaching hands
Advance accommodations are essential to a seamless patient experience.

For many individuals with disabilities, getting the care they need can be made even more difficult due to the lack of accessibility in medical communication. Because of this, patients will end up spending extra time at the doctor’s office as staff tries to accommodate their needs after arrival. For example, if a patient requires a sign language interpreter during their visit, but this has not been communicated ahead of their appointment, it will lead to confusion and delay. In some cases, the lack of this EHR technology will prevent the patient from receiving the care they need.

The possibility that some patients are not receiving the care they need due to an outdated system or lack of EHR technology is unacceptable. EHRs provide this type of vital information regarding accessibility during doctor’s appointments, so that patient accessibility requirements are made a priority before a patient arrives. By notifying all medical staff of a patient's accessibility needs, the EHR experience is improved both for the patient and healthcare provider.

EHRs Make Personal Health Records More Accessible

Now that EHRs are widely used, the patient experience has become much easier for those with disabilities

blood test results white gloves laboratory test tube
Immediate access to test results is still a relatively new development in EHR technology.

For people living with disabilities, access to health records is of the utmost importance. Before EHRs, paper records were inaccessible to patients with vision issues or those who lack literacy education. Thankfully, we now have EHRs to mediate some of the problems that made medical care difficult for those most in need. EHRs have the power to give each patient access to their records online. Because of this, a patient no longer has to request access to their medical records, prescriptions, and inquire about upcoming appointments.  This is helpful not only to the patient but also to the healthcare provider who can more easily communicate with their patients and provide the fullest extent of care.

With all of those benefits listed, it is important to note that there is still much work to be done until the patient EHR experience is universally accessible. Let’s talk about it.

Future Developments Will Provide Even More Opportunities for People With Disabilities

There is still work to be done until the EHR experience is fully accessible

older couple walking side by side sepia fall leaves forest path
More accessibility measures are being introduced to EHRs every year. The future is bright!

Advancements in EHR technology are happening faster than ever before, and recently accessibility is at the forefront of the discussion. Though EHRs have helped patients with disabilities take control of their healthcare, healthcare professionals have proposed several improvements to help those still having trouble interacting with their medical information.
Specifically, it is essential for those with visual impairments to access their records in a non-visual format. It is important for people who have limited small motor control that they have access to their files without needing to use a standard keyboard and mouse. There is also a need for simplified documentation for those who have mental disabilities to understand their care plan better. Though these innovations have not yet been widely introduced, EHR manufacturers consider the needs of those with disabilities as EHR technology is updated.

Universal Design Will Benefit All Patients and Healthcare Providers

Improvements in the EHRs will benefit user experience for those with and without disabilities

doctors congregating around x ray white office sunny day white and blue coats
Healthcare can be confusing no matter your ability level, universal design makes life easier for everyone.

The term “universal design” refers to a program accessible to all users, no matter their level of ability. Programmers are currently striving to make EHRs universally designed for all patients and healthcare providers so that information is disseminated equally among all patients. As we have seen in the past, steps toward universal design will not only benefit those with disabilities but will benefit the medical community as a whole.

Improving accessibility for those in need will also improve everyone’s healthcare experience. For example, word prediction technology was primarily used for those with disabilities to type with fewer keystrokes upon the invention. This same technology is now found on all smartphones and makes everyone’s life a little bit easier. When these same principles are applied to EHR technology, it becomes clear that making moves toward universal design will improve everyone’s healthcare experience. 

Since EHRs became the industry standard for all healthcare providers, people with disabilities have been able to have their medical needs met more efficiently than ever before. Thanks to EHRs becoming the industry standard, so many more people are taking control of their health. As the EHR experience for those with disabilities improves, the possibility for universal design becomes clearer each year. 

Are you interested in improving your organization’s EHR experience? Iron Bridge delivers cutting-edge solutions for data integration, public health management, patient access permissions, and data aggregation. With Iron Bridge, your organization can remain at the forefront of the medical industry. Contact one of our team members today for more information!

Back to blog