AI in EHR and the Digital Transformation Integration
EHR is an acronym for electronic health records. An EHR is a person’s official health document that is shared digitally with several healthcare facilities and agencies. EHRs are having a major impact as patient information has begun to travel down the pathway of digital transformation. Patients have grown to expect that when they go to a medical facility, they will be given access to their health records through a portal that is accessible through a computer and/or smartphone.
The type of information that is usually found in an EHR includes:
- The patient’s contact information
- Detailed record of visits to healthcare professionals
- Any allergies the patient may have (i.e. foods, medications, latex, adhesives)
- Up-to-date insurance information
- Family medical history
- Immunization records
- Personal medical history for the patient (i.e. diseases, conditions, surgical procedures)
- List of current medications
- Hospitalization records
- Most (not all) facilities will attach imagery to the patient’s records as well.
Defining EHR Failure Post-Implementation
The events that constitute an EHR implementation failure are not dramatic. Normally there’s no huge media blast about the catastrophic result of the failure. The consequential evidence of failure is not even noticed from the outside looking in most of the time. EHR implementation failure is not even the instance in which the EHR cannot be used during launch due to glitches. EHR failures come from various directions and take various forms.
The exact definition of a specific failure is dependent on the context and should be based on organizational impact. There are numerous examples of EHR failure.
It would not seem as though an EHR could compromise a patient’s safety, but 18,000 safety incidents occurred that were EHR-related from 2007 to 2018. An example of a patient safety compromise is a hospital’s EHR ordering medication improperly resulting in a failure to properly alert staff to harmful drug interactions.
When the workflow is not planned adequately or the system interface is not compatible, the outcome can be a high level of burnout felt by professionals and clinical staff. The morale of the team can (and usually will) suffer due to low job satisfaction. The loss of valuable doctors and clinical staff can cause a hard hit to the outcome for patients.
EHR implementation processes can (and have) caused a financial loss for healthcare facilities and organizations when implementation is false due to costs that were improperly modeled mid-implementation and/or after. The most common catalysts for financial loss are:
- External assistance to guide the practice through the implementation
- Redesigning the workflow
- Added training for staff
- Maintenance for technical issues that are unforeseen
- A reduction in productivity during the transition
- Tools to manage security as protection for patients’ sensitive data
- External assistance in customizing the EHR
- Upgrades and add-ons needed for a more seamless workflow
- Temporary staffing needed to migrate and convert data
- Third-party software
Some EHRs are not user-friendly, which can cause an issue with productivity. The failure to engage patients through portals can result in the patient feeling disengaged and their satisfaction with care will likely drop.
For an EHR implementation to be as successful as intended, it simply cannot be standalone technology. Artificial intelligence has become the ideal integration prior to the implementation of EHRs.
What is Artificial Intelligence as it Pertains to the Healthcare Industry?
The bumpy transition of the implementation of EHR has been proof positive that something more is needed to enhance the workability of this program. The routine processes that are a part of EHR operations can be automated by AI, making interfacing more intuitive. With the use of artificial intelligence, cognitive overload can easily be a nightmare from the past.
Administrative tasks monopolize a great deal of clinical time. AI has made it possible through voice recognition and dictation, coupled with natural language processing, to free up time, effort, and mental energy which can be compassionately redirected to patients.
With the implementation of AI-based EHR, there is a tremendous transformation in the treatment of patients. The concern regarding medication dosages, allergic reactions, or drug interactions is eliminated when the patient’s data is stored in the cloud and is immediately available during the most critical moments; saving time when clinical or hospital staff need every life-saving moment during an emergent situation or trauma.
When AI enhances the capabilities of EHR, better patient outcomes are a reality. For example, a patient may be overdue for lab work. He or she would receive a reminder that the lab tests are overdue. When a patient portal is provided, patients can request med refills without a phone call or an office visit. Patients can also be prioritized according to conditions.
The Perks of Artificial Intelligence
There are many doors that are opened by the deployment of AI in the healthcare industry.
Operational tasks are easily automated, shortening the workflow and increasing efficiency. An example is the inventory of a hospital. The supply chain and the management of inventory can be tracked through an algorithm that will calculate the number of supplies needed to be amply stocked for the number and type of surgeries that will be performed that day.
Artificial Intelligence has the capability of flagging inappropriate access to a patient’s sensitive data. AI can determine if the information is accessed internally or from an outside source and prevent a complete breach from occurring.
In a data-driven age where patient satisfaction is of utmost importance, artificial intelligence enables an electronic health record to be utilized to enhance a patient’s experience from the moment they walk into the hospital or clinic. The EHR can work together with AI via an algorithm and determine if a patient needs certain education (such as diabetes education or pre-operative education). When a patient receives individualized communication from their care provider, they feel valued and the trust in the healthcare facility is heightened.
The Critical Importance of Physician Input
Artificial intelligence can greatly improve the efficacy for the EHR companies while boosting the analytics of a healthcare facility. AI is providing the healthcare industry with the chance to confirm workflows and offer huge boosts in the advancement of data analytics. Some have the fear that AI will remove several critical steps and people from the patient’s treatment plan. This is the very reason that human input and intervention are crucial to launching a successful AI-based EHR platform. There should be a solid partnership between the computer and the physician.
When a platform is properly deployed, AI can renew the meaning and purpose a doctor may have lost through the years. Medicine can be reformed when proven accuracy and efficiency are present. It is truly up to the physicians of the industry to foster, guide, and oversee proactively as the adoption of AI as a care partner is carried out.
What are the Challenges of EHR Integration?
For a digital integration to be successful providers must adopt an EHR platform. At this point, EHR systems are in place in most healthcare settings and electronic health information is being exchanged at tremendous rates.
Systems must have the capability to access relevant information within a user interface at the precise time and place needed. The technical infrastructure is what makes this possible. Whether it be through an API to pull vital information via particular screens or the provision of tabs that link directly to third parties for data, integration requires a software configuration.
If health systems, insurers, and vendors are not completely on board with integration then it cannot fulfill its potential. Integration difficulties, privacy and security issues, and limitations of contracts can all cause challenges, but they are not challenges that cannot be overcome.
The Steps for Implementing an Integrated EHR
Before data can be aggregated for the purpose of population health management, an EHR needs to be AI-integrated prior to implementation. There are crucial steps to the implementation of data platforms in the healthcare setting. The first step is to build an implementation team. The team should consist of:
- Lead superuser
- Lead physician
- Project manager
The next step is to prepare clinical software. If a HIPAA Risk Assessment is needed, this would be the stage in which this would be completed. Determining the hardware needs is next. How many printers will be needed? How many laptops or tablets? Will there be computers in every room or will each staff member have a device that can be wheeled or carried from room to room?
Prior to launch, data must be transferred to the new platform and workflows have to be created. When creating workflows, it must be taken into consideration that EHRs can go down. There needs to be a comprehensive plan on what should be done if and when this occurs.
Once the staff is thoroughly trained and an overall sense of confidence is present, it is time to decide on a launch date and decide if you will trickle the new platform in or release everything in one day. The key as administrators is to be confident and motivate your team. If the leader is feeling negative, the team will follow. If the leader is excited about the change, so will their crew.
Heidi West is a medical writer for Vohra Wound Physicians, a national wound care physician group. She writes about healthcare and technology in the medical industry.