Electronic Health Records (EHR)

An Electronic Health Record (EHR) is an electronic patients medical history, that is maintained by the medical provider over time, and may include all of the key administrative clinical data relevant to that persons care under a particular provider, including demographics, progress notes, problems, medications, ...

If you've ever moved to a new state or switched to a new doctor, then you've likely faced the challenge of transferring your medical records.

Congress passed the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act in 2009, which set up incentives for hospitals to get off pen and paper charts and onto electronic medical systems. Over the next seven years, hospitals could buy these information-technology systems, install them into their hospitals, and receive money in return for doing it. And this did make a big shift in how many people had an electronic health record. Before, fewer than half were on any kind of system. By 2015, more than 75% of hospitals had an EHR system in place.

While new EHR systems and more patients records added, still tow issues usability and interoperability. For all the work that's been put into EHR systems, in 2014 only 35% of doctors surveyed were very satisfied or satisfied with the systems they were using. As for interoperability, or the ability for one product to communicate to another and share data, to transfer your medical history from one hospital to another — that's a tough sell. For one, hospitals tend to be fiercely competitive when it comes to their patients records. And the health records housed in one hospital might speak an entirely different language from the hospital system across the street.

New cloud-based EHR systems may help reduce cost and find way for systems to communicate with each other, but as it stands today we are still far a way from where we should be.