The Future of Electronic Health Records

There are going to be some very big changes in the way healthcare is documented and delivered in the future. Doctors will not only be expected to use EHRs to document the patient visit, but we will also be
expected to provide many additional services to patients through our EHRs and the internet. During a recent provider teleconference, CMS listed many of the services we will be expected to provide. Some of them we are already doing, like health encyclopedias, online scheduling, patient education, and patient intake forms. These are easily understood and easy to do.

The next steps will include providing additional services like symptom checkers, fitness tracking, daily care reminders, and electronic referrals. Most of these will also be easy to achieve. However some of the more difficult services to provide will include:
• Virtual coaching and secure messaging that will require active communication through the EHR with patients.
• EHR calculated patient-specific predictive models.
• Wellness plan with care coordination that will require working with other providers through your EHR.
• Condition-specific self-management that requires confidential patient review.
• Shared care plans and team outcomes through ACOs.
• Community support forums and resources that will require setting up chat rooms and online education resources for patients.

The way that we document and deliver healthcare is definitely changing, but knowing what is coming can help you prepare for those changes. As you read the list of services above you may have noticed that you are already doing some of the easier ones. With a little planning you can start to work on some of the others and give yourself a head start on the changes to come.

Peter J. Cass, O.D.
Optometric Business Solutions