For the past few years the government has been vigorously working to improve the Healthcare Industry.  Multiple committees have been preparing for the day where providers will receive financial incentives to purchase and use an EHR.  Finally, in February 2009, this happened through the signing of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

You now are aware of the major differences between an EMR and EHR, and understand that as a provider, you must seek an EHR. 

Back in 2003, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) created a standardized EHR.  The IOM established eight core functions, to improve four key issues: quality care, chronic disease management, efficiency and feasibility.

1.       Health Information and Data. 
The electronic chart must hold everything that is currently included within a paper chart.  All information within the electronic chart must be information/data that would be used to make critical decisions.  In addition, the IOM further stated that it should be a well designed interface to enable the provider to review the information efficiently.

2.       Result Management.
The ability to manage all test results (from labs, radiology reports). 

3.       Order Management.
All prescriptions are to be written electronically to reduce medical errors due to illegible handwriting.  Orders are also automatically generated.

4.       Decision Support.
Warnings/reminders to enhance clinical performance.  Decision support can aid in: drug interactions/prescriptions/prevention, detection of disease outbreaks, evidence-based guidelines, etc.  Overall, it will assist providers in making the best decision possible for the patient.

5.       Electronic Communications and Connectivity.
An interoperable system that is able to connect with multiple providers, the patient, labs, and hospitals in a secure manner.

6.       Patient Support.
The ability to provide patients with educational material as well as the ability to enter data themselves concerning home monitoring devices.

7.       Administrative Processes.

This is referred to as the Practice Management.  The administrative process is to improve the efficiency in scheduling appointments, eliminate confusions, determine insurance eligibility, etc.

8.       Reporting.
A standardized system to produce reports that are demanded by state, federal, and local levels.