Electronic health record – more than patient data

At the HIMSS Conference & Exhibition last month, my colleagues attended a dinner with a number of editorial folks from a well-known healthcare IT publication. In addition to great food and company, the conversation turned to software. Shocking, right? We software folks just can’t help ourselves.

They discussed the skepticism that many doctors have about the ability for new technologies, especially the electronic medical record (EMR), to capture patient “narratives.” In a recent survey of nearly 1,000 doctors, it’s obvious that they’re concerned about capturing these stories – and in many instances, they think the technologies could limit their ability to do so.

More often than not, the narratives are an important part of diagnosis and treatment – and achieving better patient outcomes. This makes one thing clear: just patient data, without notes, pictures and other supplementary files – things EMR systems cannot manage – isn’t enough.

An interesting follow-up: one doctor was concerned about not only capturing the patient story, but also about getting doctors to read the notes from previous visits. It seems that  without the use of sticky notes, bright red pens and bold scribbles – electronic or traditional –  it may be hard to draw attention to certain things.

All in all, it’s exciting that others are saying aloud what we’ve been thinking: that ECM technology is critical in helping healthcare organizations capture the patient narrative. Not only does it help – it’s what ECM is designed to do.  Whether it’s scanned physician notes or audio files from doctors, ECM can capture that content and connect it to the patient record, putting us one step closer to a complete patient story.

Susan deCathelineau

Susan deCathelineau

With more than 20 years of healthcare technology and operations leadership experience, Susan deCathelineau is a leader in providing management and consultant services for Health Information Management, Revenue Cycle and Electronic Medical Record strategies. Most notably, she was responsible for the successful enterprise-wide OnBase implementation at Allina Health, which included the integration with the Epic electronic medical record (EMR) initiative. In her current role at Hyland, deCathelineau is responsible for developing and implementing a global strategic vision, to ensure that OnBase Healthcare solutions and services earn customer loyalty and deliver operational excellence. Prior to joining Hyland in 2006, deCathelineau was director of corporate information services at Allina Health System and vice president of product management at QuadraMed. She holds a bachelor’s degree in health information management from the College of St. Scholastica, and completed her master’s degree in health services administration at the College of St. Francis. She is currently Hyland’s vice president for global healthcare sales and services.

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