Over the last few years, delivery of health has evolved from in-person office visits to virtual visits and remote patient monitoring. Consumers today value convenience as much as quality and cost, and health systems and other providers have adapted in response to this demand. For the majority of health care providers, workflow revolves around the Electronic Medical Record, the one-stop shop for care coordination, medical data storage, and progress tracking.
EMR Integration and Telehealth
Bi-directional Interface: Utilizes two-way communication in which both systems (for example the EMR and the telehealth platform) are sending and receiving data.
Electronic Medical Record (EMR): Everything you’d find in a paper chart, such as medical history, diagnoses, medications, immunization dates, allergies.
As the industry has shifted steadily towards telehealth, the conversation about the interoperability of EMRs has spiked. Most health systems today have an EMR in place and rely on the digital version of the paper-based medical record for improved continuity of care, lower drug interaction rates, decreased mortality rates, and better provider communication.
When health systems are determining whether to implement telehealth technology, they are looking at whether telehealth will make care delivery more seamless, or more difficult. EMR integration is an especially beneficial component to the telehealth care delivery model, as it increases provider efficiency and improves quality of care. When the EMR and telehealth application are integrated, they communicate with one another through a bidirectional workflow enabling the physician to interact with a single platform rather than duplicating work on two (the telehealth platform and the EMR separately). This enhances provider efficiency while empowering providers to make science-based decisions, facilitating faster diagnosing, lowering prescribing errors, and as a result, improving patient outcomes. EMR integration bridges the gap between telehealth and patient data.
A telehealth solution that is integrated with an EMR minimizes duplication of records and processes. When a virtual visit occurs or when biometric data is recorded on the telehealth platform, it will integrate into the EMR, streamlining record collection and ensuring that all patient data is consolidated in one place. Additionally, the streamlined workflow allows doctors to see more patients throughout the day without overburdening their office-visit scheduling, all the while increasing revenue for the organization.
An EMR Integration in Practice
In October 2016, Frederick Memorial Hospital (FMH), one of HRS’ partners created the Chronic Care Management Program (CCMP) pilot to monitor patients with high risk conditions, such as COPD, CHF, hypertension and diabetes who did not qualify for home health or were unwilling to take part in a home health program. Recently FMH released results showing an 89% reduction in hospital readmissions and a 49% reduction in emergency department visits for the patients enrolled. Due to this sharp decline, FMH decreased the average cost of care for these patients by 52%.
HRS is integrated bidirectionally with FMH’s EMR, Healthwyse. Through this integration, the data that is tracked on the HRS tablet is communicated directly to the EMR. This improves continuity of care, while also saving the physician time and reducing the possibility of error.
Improving Data Collection with Telehealth
EMR integrations can be extremely beneficial from a reporting and analytics perspective, especially for reporting and billing reconciliations for all commercial payers, as well as Medicare and Medicaid. When a telehealth encounter (i.e. remote patient monitoring or virtual visit) integrates with the EMR, data collection and billing for the health system is facilitated. With the recent CMS changes for virtual check-ins, remote patient monitoring, and internet consultations, reporting is extremely important. Telehealth encounters can now be reimbursed, creating a huge opportunity for providers nation-wide, while also creating a need for efficiency and accurate reporting. Bidirectional integrations between the EMR and telehealth platform helps organizations follow this requirement.
Effects of EMRs on Telehealth
An EMR integration with an organization’s telehealth solution allows for the delivery of complete and effective care, while also streamlining provider workflows and reducing redundancy. Successful integration will result in more convenient care for patients, better patient outcomes, and an improved technology experience for providers across the health system.