Yes, as a part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, all public and private healthcare providers and other eligible professionals (EP) were mandated to adopt and show “meaningful use” of electronic medical records (EMR) by January 1, 2014, to ensure they maintain their existing Medicaid and Medicare reimbursement levels.

Note that since then, the use of electronic medical and health records has grown exponentially in the United States and it has also shown its many benefits to health organizations in the country. In the United States, documentation in every nursing specialty, including hospice, is expected to include a detailed assessment of the patient’s condition and responses to interventions.

Hospice documentation is expected to extensively address findings that support ongoing hospice services. Over time, electronic documentation has proven to be necessary for helping healthcare professionals document the care they offer in a precise and uniform way.

Have it in mind that the primary purpose of expanding the adoption of health information technology, such as electronic medical records, is to enhance continuous quality improvement and the exchange of information at the point of care.

Note that to participate in the incentive program; an organization will have to show meaningful use of health information technology to an encouraging level. Hospice nurses are known to assess each patient and document the continued need for hospice care and the documentation is always expected to address findings that support ongoing hospice services for the patient’s terminal condition.

When starting a hospice business in the United States, have it in mind that there are so many things to do; especially making sure that your patients are comfortable, working with their families, educating them about what exactly hospice care is, and making sure that they understand what to expect. When you consider all these things, adding the issue of whether or not you have electronic records for your facility probably seems unnecessary. But it’s not.

You need to understand that it is very necessary because of the type of work you do. If you are looking for a new EMR software provider, you must make sure that you can use an integrated system smoothly and implement it in a way that ensures all the medical professionals in your business have quick and timely access to vital information.

Pros and Cons of Electronic Medical Records in Hospice

The primary objective of electronic medical records (EMR) is to standardize documentation, prevent errors, promote concise charting, and devise a way of storing medical records long-term while ensuring a convenient way of retrieving them. However, EMRs also come with both pros and cons when utilized by a hospice business.

Pros

  • Improved Quality of Care: Truth be told, computerized notes are always easier to read when compared to a physician’s handwritten notes. Note that this reduces the risk of errors and misinterpretations that can negatively impact the quality of patient care.
  • Convenience and Efficiency: A hospice business won’t have to invest so much time sorting through mighty paper records. Anyone who genuinely needs it can access electronic health records quickly and efficiently with just a few taps on a keyboard.
  • Saving Space: It helps to eliminate the need to store documents in space-consuming file cabinets and also frees up more space in the office for other supplies equipment, and other essentials.
  • Patient Access: A good number of EMR systems include a patient portal that lets other private caregivers view the medical history and information whenever they wish.
  • Financial Incentives: Utilizing a certified EMR will surely ensure you fulfill the Meaningful Use requirements for Medicaid and Medicare, making you eligible for various incentives from the federal government.

Cons

  • Inaccurate Information: Owing to the instantaneous nature of electronic medical records, they will have to be updated immediately after each visit to a patient or when there is a change to the information. The failure to do so could mean other caregivers will rely on inaccurate data when determining appropriate treatment protocols.
  • Technical malfunctions: In the healthcare industry, there has been a constant outcry about the crippling effect of technical difficulties with EMRs. When the system goes down, it’s like the apocalypse. Backup paper records are expected to be kept, and data inputted later when the system is back up and running. Confusion as to what to do when this occurs can lead to patient care delays and potential errors.
  • Cost: Truth be told, electronic medical record programs are quite expensive, especially since the hospice business must purchase the software and train hundreds of staff in its use.
  • Less patient interaction: This has been a steady issue among both patients and providers, especially in the hospice sector. Families and patients now see their healthcare provider staring at a computer screen more than they lay eyes on them, and this often leads to a perception of de-personalization in care. Providers also tend to feel that they spend more time documenting than caring for patients.
  • Over-standardization: In this line of business, it can be quite daunting for providers when they need to order something that has not been inputted into the system. Lesser-used medications or treatments may not be part of the selection process, and this can quickly lead to workarounds that can create frustration, confusion, and potential errors.
  • Increased virtual work: The advent of electronic medical records has genuinely increased the workload on healthcare providers. Adjusting and finishing charts, fielding test results that drop in throughout the day, and even handling patient emails can be a challenging task. While the ability to communicate with the provider is a massive benefit for patients and loved ones, it creates an enormous amount of added work for providers.

Conclusion

In recent years, electronic health record (HER) systems have been increasingly tailored to providers of end-of-life and seriously ill care as these industries grow toward value-based care. A good number of hospice and palliative care providers have successfully integrated electronic systems to stay competitive in an intense marketplace and provide data-backed reporting for regulatory requirements.

However, there are many things you need to consider when searching for an EMR provider, but just sure it offers your hospice business the correct clinical and financial workflows.