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Learn EHR Basics

Learn EHR Basics

Interested in finding out more about electronic health records (EHRs)? Here is an EHR overview for providers and other health care professionals, along with a quick look at other aspects of the new wave of health information technology (health IT).

What Are Electronic Health Records (EHRs)?

EHRs are, at their simplest, digital (computerized) versions of patients' paper charts. But EHRs, when fully up and running, are so much more than that.

EHRs are real-time, patient-centered records. They make information available instantly, "whenever and wherever it is needed". And they bring together in one place everything about a patient's health. EHRs can:

  • Contain information about a patient's medical history, diagnoses, medications, immunization dates, allergies, radiology images, and lab and test results
  • Offer access to evidence-based tools that providers can use in making decisions about a patient's care
  • Automate and streamline providers' workflow
  • Increase organization and accuracy of patient information
  • Support key market changes in payer requirements and consumer expectations

One of the key features of an EHR is that it can be created, managed, and consulted by authorized providers and staff across more than one health care organization. A single EHR can bring together information from current and past doctors, emergency facilities, school and workplace clinics, pharmacies, laboratories, and medical imaging facilities.

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Dr. Charles Kemp

Dr. Charles Edward Kemp Children’s Clinic Jonesboro, AK

"Everything changes and you either change or fall behind."

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What is Meaningful Use?

As you get involved with electronic health records, one of the things you'll hear about is the concept of "meaningful use"—part of the standards and criteria developed in the health field to encourage a smooth, productive transition to EHRs.

"Meaningful use" refers to the use of certified EHR technologies by health care providers in ways that measurably improve health care quality and efficiency. The ultimate goal is to bring about health care that is:

  • Patient-centered
  • Evidence-based
  • Prevention-oriented
  • Efficient
  • Equitable


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Health Information Privacy and Security

The need for privacy and security is at the forefront of the health movement. Like paper medical records, electronic records must always be private and secure. Health can help protect patient information through:

  • Access controls to make sure only those who are authorized can access health information
  • Audit functions that track who has accessed what pieces of health information
  • Internet-based portals that allow patients to access their own health records, see who else has viewed their records, and check the accuracy of the records




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Electronic Health Record Incentives

As America moves toward broad adoption of health , Medicare and Medicaid EHR incentive programs can help providers with the transition.

Incentive payments include:

  • Up to $44,000 for eligible professionals in the Medicare EHR Incentive Program
  • Up to $63,000 for eligible professionals in the Medicaid EHR Incentive Program
  • A base payment of $2 million for eligible hospitals and critical access hospitals, depending on certain criteria




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