Nearly every American owns a smartphone, making technology and communication increasingly mobile. As electronic health record software catches up to this trend, it’s easier than ever to access EHRs on the go. The result is a range of apps that facilitate mobile EHR access, with benefits for both patients and providers.
The state of mobile EHR apps
Nearly every U.S. provider has demonstrated meaningful use of EHRs and mobile EHR access is the next frontier. Most of the top EHR vendors have an associated mobile app, but third-party developers are the true engine of innovation.
The app marketplace has become a popular way to facilitate mobile EHR access and innovation. Major vendors like athenahealth, Allscripts, Epic and Cerner each have app marketplaces. With access to the EHR software’s API, third-party developers have built thousands of apps that allow providers to execute tasks beyond what the software alone is capable of.
Take athenahealth’s marketplace as an example. This is one of the first and most developed EHR app stores, with over 200 apps. Users can choose from software that facilitates mobile EHR access through a range of functions, including:
- Care Management
- Efficiency Tools
- Medical Records
- Provider Tools
While mobile EHR access is still relatively new, a surprising number of physicians are trying it out. According to a 2018 survey of Physicians Practice readers, 75 percent of respondents say they use mobile health in their practice on a weekly basis.
Mobile health is a broad term that covers more than just EHR access. Most physicians smartphone use is still focused on information management (looking things up) and communication (texting or emailing with their team). But as doctors become more comfortable with mobile technology, more and more are accessing the EHR from their smartphone and tablet.
Benefits for providers
Mobile EHR access has a few key benefits for physicians and other healthcare providers. These fall in to three categories: documentation, team coordination and reimbursements.
Faster, more accurate documentation
The longer providers wait to document a patient encounter, the more likely important details will be omitted. Writing notes hours later from memory can impact patient outcomes and insurance payouts. With mobile EHR access, doctors can take notes anytime and anywhere – including during a patient encounter. This reduces the margin for error and eliminates late nights completing unfinished documentation.
A coordinated care team
Health care providers are busy and it’s easy for small follow up tasks to slip under the radar. Mobile EHR apps can help physicians coordinate their team so nothing is missed. Many EHR apps allow users to create orders, page staff and follow up with literature right from the point of care.
A more efficient revenue stream
When providers streamline documentation and orders they also increase timely billing and reimbursement from payers. This helps maintain a constant revenue stream and a healthy, efficient practice.
Benefits for patients
Mobile EHR access also makes it easier for patients to access their personal health record (PHR). PHRs can give providers a more comprehensive and balanced view of the patient while empowering individuals and improving interoperability.
Mobile EHR access makes it easier for patients to refill prescriptions, access lab results, track immunizations and schedule appointments. Ideally this can be done via a single platform with an intuitive user interface.
Studies have shown that giving patients access to their PHR can also give providers a more comprehensive and balanced view of the patient. This is because patients control and manage the information in their record. Providers can therefore view records, as documented by patients, directly.
As major health IT players figure out EHR interoperability, PHRs provide an immediate solutions. When patients can access the EHR from anywhere, it’s easy for them to share pertinent medical information with other providers. Patients can even pull up past documentation during an emergency or other unscheduled visit. This makes their care more comprehensive and continuous, even as they visit multiple providers.