Moving Forward at NAHC: Introducing EHR

The Native American Health Center is moving from a paper system to an Electronic Health Records (EHR) system.

We are working hard to better serve your needs by using cutting-edge technology to provide private and secure health records to create more efficient services and give you easier access to care. 

Thank you for your patience as we move forward through this change. 

What is EHR?

EHR has been defined as a “systematic collection of electronic health information about individual patients or populations”. Health records can contain a wide range of patient information such as demographics, encounter history, medications, immunizations, lab results, radiology images, vital signs and billing and insurance records.

Why EHR? EHR has been defined as a “systematic collection of electronic health information about individual patients or populations”. Health records can contain a wide range of patient information such as demographics, encounter history, medications, immunizations, lab results, radiology images, vital signs and billing and insurance records.

Advantages: cost reduction for the US Healthcare system as a whole; improvement in quality of care and outcomes; presentation of enhanced information to providers; better record-keeping and patient histories. Disadvantages: costly to implement at practice level; requires large organizational commitment and training; may take years to pay off; loss of short-term productivity as new systems ramp up.

Incentives: Within five years, large practices will be subject to penalties for not using EHR, according to standards known as “Meaningful Use” (MU). MU will eventually require providers to use EHR in a “meaningful manner”, to exchange health information with other agencies (which we already do with Indian Health Services in a not-so-efficient way), to improve coordination of care, to reduce healthcare disparities, to improve outcomes, to enhance public health and to protect privacy. The Obama administration’s Health IT program has specified a range of objectives that healthcare providers using EHR should demonstrate within the first few years of adopting a certified software package like NextGen. They must be able to maintain demographic information; maintain problem, vitals, medication and allergy lists; provide summaries to patients; generate prescriptions electronically while implementing drug-drug and drug-allergy checks and other alerts. Many other measures are in the process of being defined. Federal financial incentives are available to providers who can demonstrate progress in achieving EHR’s objectives, although admittedly the financial return is dwarfed by the initial investment. Bottom Line: There’s no turning back if we wish to remain relevant, to serve our target populations with the best medical practices, and to foster better patient tracking and care.

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