How Health IT Developers Can Improve Health Equity

Under new regulations provided by the Office of the National Coordinator of Health IT (ONC), patients have more access to their healthcare information than ever. In an instant, patients can look up their medical records and test results on their phones. 

But while more offices are investing in EHRs for their patients, not all of these applications have been built equally. This can inevitably cause frustrations on behalf of both patients and physicians down the road. 

That’s why health IT developers are still innovating and improving the current EHR system for patients and their doctors. Iron Bridge explores effective techniques for improving EMR integration for patients in its latest blog post. 

Why Patient Access to EHRs is Crucial

EMR integration plays a critical role in the patient-physician relationship

female physician and male patient

Electronic health records (EHRs) are essentially digital versions of patient records. Authorized users can access them to learn more about a patient’s medical history, medication, treatment plans, test results, and more. With these records, patients can manage their health records and physicians can make informed decisions about their patients’ treatment plans.

Benefits of Offering Patients Access to EHRs

Offering patients access to their EHRs can offer a number of benefits and help improve the overall quality of their care. In an instant, they can look up test results or double-check information in regards to a question their pharmacist has asked them. Having easy access to these files can also motivate patients to take a more active role in their treatment. 

EHRs can also help physicians manage their patients by:

  • Giving them access to up-to-date information about their patients’ medical history
  • Eliminating tedious and time-consuming paperwork for staff
  • Reducing the number of repeated tests performed on patients
  • Cutting down on time spent chasing down chasing information from other healthcare providers
  • Streamlining workflows and reducing clinician burden

Unfortunately, not all patients have easy access to these critical medical services. As a result, a significant portion of the population is not able to take advantage of them. That’s why it’s crucial for health IT developers to fix current issues and frustrations with EHR access to help improve it for the future. 

Current Issues and Frustration with EHRs

Understanding the pain points in the user experience can help developers figure out how to improve EMR integration

frustrated female patient and male doctor

Right now, patient portals and health IT apps still have some ways to go in terms of their effectiveness and usability. The three main frustrations with EHRs typically include:

  • Not having access to the correct technology
  • Not being well-versed in digital platforms
  • Dealing with a clunky interface

Access to Correct Technology

Not everyone has access to efficient broadband services. And while a large percentage of U.S. citizens do have smartphones, they typically use it for internet access only. 

Health IT Literacy

While some individuals do have access to their health information, they may have trouble understanding what they say. Since most patients don’t have medical degrees, the test results or medication information provided in the EHRs may seem confusing or unclear. 

Friendly User Experience

Many patient portals and mobile apps are clunky and prone to crashing. Patients are likely to grow annoyed and frustrated with them if they are difficult to navigate or take too long to load. 

How Health IT Developers Can Improve EMR Integration

Simplifying EHRs can make patients’ lives much easier down the road

female physician talking to patient

Mobile users today can perform a number of functions just from their phones. Within minutes, they can make a deposit to their bank, book a flight, and schedule a restaurant reservation. While health IT has also advanced in recent years, it hasn’t quite reached the easy access and usability that other industries have accomplished. In order to catch up with other industries, hundreds of health IT professionals are already looking for ways to improve the current EMR integration system. 

Here’s what they can start working on.

Broadband Access

Right now, over 21 million U.S. citizens lack access to broadband services. Most of these individuals are from underserved communities or live in rural areas. As a result, a portion of the population is unable to access the full benefits of their EHRs. In order to open up EMR access to these individuals, state and local governments need to open up broadband access to them. Learning more about what programs have access to and what their particular struggles are for adapting to them can also help developers tailor their current EHR services to them. 

Digital Health Literacy

Due to low levels of digital health literacy, a number of people in the country do not know how to access or process their EHR. By implementing digital literacy programs, patients can learn how to enter pertinent information into electronic portals and also leverage their online health information. Health IT developers also need to include multiple language options and comply with ADA guidelines to ensure that their mobile apps are accessible to everyone. 

At Iron Bridge, we understand how important it is to connect patients with their physicians. Using innovative health IT, physicians can streamline services, access patient files, and improve their healthcare services. For more information on how health IT is revolutionizing the way we do medicine, contact the team at Iron Bridge today.

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