The importance of medication allergy lists in EHRs

Electronic health records have the potential to help many patients, especially when it comes to allergies and medications. When patients are suffering from chronic conditions, they will likely have to take several medications. Usually these types of patients have to see several specialists. Having all of the patient's medication allergies listed on their EHR can allow doctors to clearly see what their patient is taking and possible drug interactions.

According to the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, maintaining an active medication list in a patient's EHR is one of the objectives outlined in the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services' meaningful use program. Not only do these lists help protect patients, but they can also allow doctors to easily access a patient's information when prescribing a new medication or suggesting treatments during an appointment.

"Maintaining an active medication list is a CMS objective."

Why EHR medication allergy lists matter
A core measure of meaningful use requirements is that more than 80 percent of all unique patients that have visited an eligible professional have at least one entry or another indication that the patient has no known medication allergies. This must all be implemented in the EHR as structured data.

More features in allergy EHRs
In addition to allergy medication lists, doctors can benefit from EHR templates that are specifically catered to allergy issues overall. With health information exchange optimization, doctors can seamlessly share information about a patient, and these features are fully integrated into the system, so it won't impede physician workflow. Doctors also won't have to log into another portal in order to enter patient information into the HIE.

This is quite crucial, as a large number of Americans suffer from allergies. In fact, nasal allergies impact close to 50 million Americans each year, according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.

Having specialty templates can also allow allergists to enter codes and useful information pertaining to several conditions and treatments. AllergyEHR, one of Meditab's medical software platforms, features many of the functions, including:

  • Follow-ups to a patient's last allergy shot.
  • Shot modules.
  • A shot schedule template.
  • Dispensary information for allergy medications.
  • Lab order and tracking features.
  • Automated immunotherapy billing.
  • Automated check-in capabilities.
  • Skin test features.
  • Customer support for AllergyEHR.

As EHRs become more advanced, it's important for doctors to know how to address allergy medications as well as seasonal allergies with medical software. Having all of this information in one streamlined portal can make life easier for medical staff and deliver better care. 

How is population health affecting EHRs?

Ever since the HITECH Act passed several years ago, there has been a clear objective to improve population health standards, and health IT has been at the center of these goals. Not only are experts trying to find out the best ways to share data, but they are also determining how IT innovations like electronic health records can better serve patient populations.

There are several reasons the U.S. is making population health a priority. For one, it has the potential to reduce care costs. Predictive analytics can make it easier for physicians to prevent disease and avoid expensive treatments. Additionally, population health could improve care quality and clinical end results – creating a much more solvent, effective and expedient nationwide health system. Many stakeholders also believe that IT tools will work toward encouraging patients to become more engaged with their well-being.

"Predictive analytics make it easier to prevent disease."

Congress shows interest in making population health work
However, how do health experts, doctors, organizations, legislative bodies and patients accomplish this? For one, Congress has indicated that it is interested in patient data sharing and interoperable EHRs, according to Healthcare IT News, as it has asked the Office of the National Coordinator to report efforts made toward interoperability and data sharing. Additionally, the Government Accountability Office will also be expected to inform legislators about health information exchange. More recently, Congress has shown interest in the 21st Century Cures, which is a plan to help bills and laws keep the U.S. competitive worldwide when it comes to health IT innovation.

Organizations make a push for advanced EHRs
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services' meaningful use program recently outlined the guidelines for stage 3, which aims at making EHRs much more technologically advanced. There is also a focus on making EHRs more efficient for specialty doctors, which is where innovations like Intelligent Medical Software templates can help. A focused EHR platform that addresses specific conditions and treatments not only helps patients, but it can also present more detailed data for reporting purposes.

Additionally, at the end of January, the Department of Health and Human Services released its Interoperability Roadmap, an expansive 10-year plan for optimizing the entire healthcare system with IT, including efforts in population health. All of these efforts stem from the fact that many Americans are suffering from chronic diseases like diabetes and coronary heart disease.

population health, medical software
Population health has become a major focus in health IT.

Research shows population health can work
There are also several studies showing how EHRs can help push interoperability and population health forward. For instance, in a 2015 study published in the journal Population Health Management, researchers from the New York University School of Medicine determined that "EHR networks offer the potential for almost real-time determination of the health status of populations in care, for targeting interventions to vulnerable populations, and for monitoring the impact of such initiatives over time." Additionally, the NYU analysts concluded that these results can be especially beneficial in ambulatory care settings where chronic conditions are commonly treated and monitored.

Another notable study published in Preventing Chronic Disease showed that EHR referrals connected communities to focus on diabetes prevention and helped individuals gain access to wholesome, healthy foods. Similarly, a 2014 study conducted by researchers at Columbia University explained that EHR interventions in population health could help discover gaps in clinical care for diabetes patients.

At a time when population health through predictive data analytics is gaining steam, it's crucial for providers to have the best possible EHR platform available. With IMS, doctors can rest assured that their systems are equipped to handle all of the reporting necessary to help promote population health efforts and interoperability.