Electronic health records (EHRs) may have a greater impact on global medicine than any other new technology. Cast against a wide field of developing technologies with potential significance for health and wellness, EHRs aren’t all that exciting. Wearable biomarker sensors, artificial intelligence, robotics, telemedicine, the Internet of Things (IoT), and even smart homes are intrinsically more interesting than computerized medical records. EHRs don’t even have universal acceptance in the health care system. A recent study found most doctors think EHRs harm relationships with patients. But the debate about EHRs may now be over.
The Mayo Clinic‘s recent announcement that it completed system-wide EHR implementation effectively ends any argument about the technology. Ranked the #1 hospital in America for 2018-2019 by U.S. News & World Report for the third consecutive year, the Mayo Clinic has long leadership traditions of research, innovation, and education. Based in Minnesota with campuses and facilities in four other states, the Mayo Clinic’s implementation of the Epic electronic health record and revenue cycle management system in its Florida and Arizona locations completed the three-year initiative.
Known as the Plummer Project, the Mayo Clinic’s new Epic system allows patients to check in electronically and receive a single consolidated billing statement. All patient data will be available for providers and patients, regardless of where they were seen in the massive multi-state system. Care professionals will also be able to compare patient results with other patients across the full system. According to Steve Peters, M.D., the project co-chair, “Having one integrated system builds on our core mission of putting the needs of patients first. This will enable us to enhance services, accelerate innovation and provide better care.”
Obstacles remain in the way of reaching the full potential of EHR data. They must integrate reliably with wearables and other digital health technology devices. But we’ve clearly reached a tipping point where digitize health data is going to contribute to making diagnoses faster and more accurate, treatments more effective, and healthcare costs lower.