Information Technology in Healthcare - No Age Limit
The majority of senior citizens don’t go online every day to instant message friends, check emails, or shop at their favorite online store. Technology is most often embraced by younger adults who are looking to connect in new and distinctive ways. However, in healthcare, the benefits of technology can be experienced regardless of this generation gap. With the use of an Electronic Health Record (EHR), information technology helps to improve the quality of medical care - for all ages.
We are not getting any younger; in fact, we are getting older. Today most men live to be close to 80 and women live to be more than 80. People who used to die of heart disease, cancer, and stroke are surviving into advanced old age mainly because of advancements in medical treatment and prevention efforts. We are actually getting better at prolonging life. However, aging causes body and health changes; health changes result in more visits to doctors (primary care and specialists); more visits to the doctor require a sophisticated system to manage all aspects of care.
The National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey reports that people between the ages of 25 and 34 visit a physician 2.2 times per year, while people 65-74 visit a physician 6 times a year. Those 75 years of age and over visit a physician 7.22 times a year. Older adults require regular medical attention, the monitoring of multiple prescriptions, and increased number of doctors visits to prevent disease and disability. An EHR can assist in coordinating this care.
The EHR is more than an electronic version of a paper chart. It assists physicians in collecting, evaluating and documenting information regarding your medical care via a computer.
The EHR has many benefits compared to the traditional system of paper charts. It is easier for physicians to access the medical records both from within the office and outside the office. EHR accurately retains and retrieves information that might otherwise be lost or forgotten in a paper chart. Physicians can transmit clinical information easily and efficiently to consultants and specialists who collaborate in care. In other words, EHR provides physicians and patients with the information that they need, when and where they need it, so that they can optimize a plan of care. One example is the EHR function called “Health Management Plan”.
The Health Management Plan (HMP) helps physicians and patients to monitor and respond to recommended procedures for health maintenance and disease management. Alerts are created when an HMP item is due or overdue, alerting clinicians to clinically significant events. Such an item, for example, might include a heart/vascular screening, a bone density test or a lipid profile. In this way, important elements of the care plan are neither forgotten nor overlooked.
Seniors often have more medications prescribed compared to younger generations. The EHR offers an e-prescribing tool that allows physicians to prescribe medications and fax them directly to the pharmacy of choice via a computer, so that the prescription is ready when you get there. This electronic system helps eliminate the risk of misinterpretation that may result with illegible handwriting. It also features drug interaction and allergy checking to alert clinicians if a medication they are prescribing could cause a problem. The entire process is faster than using a script pad and reduces the need for pharmacy call back, saving time for physicians and their patients.
Talk to your doctor about your plan for good health. You and your physician have a new tool to help document and monitor your progress – the Electronic Health Record. Take advantage of it!
Community Care Physicians, PC is a multispecialty medical group in the Capital Region, with over 35 locations and more than 200 providers in four counties. Call 782-3700 for more information or for help in finding a doctor.
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