As technology advances and demand for at-home care surges, more healthcare providers are turning to telehealth programs like remote patient monitoring (RPM) and remote therapeutic monitoring (RTM) to deliver more efficient, cost-effective patient care. And, while the success of those programs depends on a number of factors, they all have one necessity in common: integrating EHR systems with the telehealth technology in a way that’s seamless, simple and secure.
So, why is the process of integrating electronic health records (EHR) systems so important for the success of RPM and other telehealth applications, and what should leaders know before implementing any new technology?
The Importance of Integrating EHR Systems: A Brief History
Following the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) established the Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs in 2011. Also known as “Meaningful Use,” the programs first incentivized providers to switch from paper-based charting to EHR and demonstrate real usage through a set of reportable metrics, and eventually penalized those who hadn’t implemented a certified EHR. What followed was a massive, six-year adoption period where usage of EHRs went from five to 10% to over 96%.
Today, history is repeating itself with virtual care, with new programs incentivizing providers to leverage technologies like RPM and RTM to more effectively treat patients using current technology and with a priority on at home care. And by 2030, it will be near-mandatory to have implemented cheaper and more efficient ways of providing care since “all Medicare fee-for-service beneficiaries will be in a care relationship with accountability for quality and total cost of care.”
As a result, EHR and telehealth technology are now tied together by their adoption pattern. And in order for both to deliver long-lasting and transformative benefits, it’s becoming clear that they need to be integrated in a way that’s comprehensive, seamless, secure and simple to use.
5 Benefits of Integrating EHR Systems with Telehealth Technology
Benefit #1: Precise, comprehensive data
Given how important medical devices like remote blood pressure monitors, weight scales, blood glucose meters and others are to remote patient monitoring, the need for seamless and scalable EHR integration is apparent. And because RPM is based on the continuous monitoring of vital signs and other important information, the more quickly, smoothly and reliably that data can be transmitted, the better.
When patient data is quickly and safely transferred to the treating caregiver’s EHR system, care management models like RPM, RTM, chronic care management (CCM), principal care management (PCM) and transitional care management (TCM) function more effectively. And that means the doctor and care team have more timely, actionable data about the patients under their care.
Benefit #2: Operational simplicity and ease of use
Another crucial part of integrating EHR systems with a telehealth program is simplicity. These programs are designed for ease of use not just for patients but the care team, too. EHR integration saves them significant time by sharply reducing the need for manual entry, and provides access to vital, up-to-date patient data to better inform their clinical decisions.
“When surveyed, providers have reported that easy access to the EHR during a telehealth visit facilitates better care and rapport with the patient,” as Nelson confirms, based on a reading of the MSMS report.
Just as it helps engage patients by offering more timely, actionable info, automated EHR integration means doctors don’t have to work as hard to find the info they need to care for those patients. This also promotes clinician acceptance, and makes it easier to onboard new workers into a new system with brief training, instead of an extensive and costly learning period.
Benefit #3: Better HEDIS scores
Seamlessly integrating EHR systems with RPM also gives providers the option of using the collected metrics to report their HEDIS scores. A means of measuring improvements in outcomes, HEDIS tracks the effectiveness of how certain patient services and care are delivered within a specific calendar year. And that means a more accurate way to measure important markers associated with diabetes, hypertension, and other costly, high-risk conditions.
So, more accurate HEDIS measures can be translated directly into higher reimbursement. With EHR integration, more data than ever before can be collected and put to this purpose. And with the rise of HEDIS training programs among nurses and other clinicians specializing in remote care, organizations will have more opportunities to put this data to the best possible use.
Benefit #4: Getting provider buy-in
Automated uploads and transfer of patient data does more than offer clinicians a more convenient, effective way to manage patients. It also sharply reduces the need for handwritten or typed notes, thus saving many valuable hours in labor and helping employers redistribute that time elsewhere. It also improves clinical accuracy, which can help reduce costly errors and boost overall outcomes.
Benefit #5: Continuous improvement and ongoing cost savings
Leaders worried about the cost of RPM should also consider that seamlessly integrating EHR systems can help improve outcomes over time, thanks to the benefits listed above. Greater accuracy, fewer errors, and the enthusiastic buy-in of both clinicians and patients all lead to much better prospects for positive patient engagement, satisfaction and outcomes — factors that directly affect every healthcare organization’s bottom line.
Finding a telehealth solution capable of seamlessly integrating EHR systems of all varieties also helps ensure that it’ll grow with you in the years to come. And by better monitoring a richer cache of data with a system like the CareSimple RPM platform, organizations can also make sure they’re making the best use of the information at hand by continuingly improving their program year after year.
Seamless, Customized EHR Integration with CareSimple
Today more than ever before, successful patient care depends upon integrating EHR systems with telehealth applications as simply, seamlessly and comprehensively as possible. At CareSimple, we specialize in doing just that, helping organizations build customized solutions to meet their unique patient care needs in a way that’s fully interoperable with their current systems.