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By Monica E. Oss

Electronic health records will no longer be just a tool to collect and store data. The future of EHR is the backbone of a new collaborative network.

-Matthew Arnheiter, Senior Vice President, Innovations, Netsmart

Matthew Arnheiter

Why and how is the role of electronic health record systems (EHRs) changing? It needs to follow the strategic needs of provider organizations—with strategic advantage going to the low cost, consumer-oriented, value-focused provider. And last month at The 2018 OPEN MINDS Strategy & Innovation Institute, I had a chance to hear about the emerging role of EHRs in future collaboration in the session, Within Your Reach: Creating A Virtual Healthcare Network, given by Matthew Arnheiter, Senior Vice President, Innovations, at Netsmart.

The “new collaborative network” that will grow out of the EHR, according to Mr. Arnheiter, will be focused on interoperability, performance management, and consumer data transparency. Provider organization executive teams need technology that allows them to manage performance—with a wide array of data that can be shared with all stakeholders (see Consumer Transparency & VBR Changing Best Practice EHR Functionality; Changing EHR Regs Spell Strategy Adjustment; and Getting More From Your EHR). In short, executive teams need technology that gives them the ability to adopt the philosophy of “connect, communicate, collaborate.”

Connect—Connecting consumers and systems through health information exchange is the first and most fundamental competency in building an integrated system that will allow for integration across the entire health care system (see CMS Shifting Data Control To Consumers: Are You Ready To Share?, More & Larger Health Care Databases Mean More Data Security Concerns, and You Have An EHR, But Can You Share Data?).

Communicate—With shared data as a base, the new EHR needs to enable communication between all stakeholders, including consumers, caregivers, professionals, provider organizations, health plans, and payers. Currently, we are seeing this type of communication in practice through secure messaging, secure texting, and the current iterations of video telehealth. The future will be dominated by organizations that use data to automate and target communication.

Collaborate—Aligning people and information on a path to recovery is at the heart of the consumer’s journey through the health care system. But current systems are not set up for collaboration. Going beyond communication, the new network needs to provide digital tools for building collaborative relationships between all stakeholders.

Mr. Arnheiter noted: “In a thoroughly connected modern world, how outrageous does it sound to say that there are health care consumers who can’t connect with their provider organizations? Or put another way, how outrageous is it that there are provider organization that aren’t connected with their consumers, and other provider organizations?” The transition from EHR as ‘data collector’ to EHR as the hub in real-time collaboration requires rethinking the technology functionality needed for strategic advantage and sustainability – and how to leverage and build on the current investment in EHRs. (For my previous work on how to get ready for that, see Planning For The Digital Reinvention Of Your Market).

For more, check out my recent article, Getting More From Your EHR. And be sure to join my colleague Joseph Naughton-Travers, Senior Associate, OPEN MINDS on October 24 at The 2018 OPEN MINDS Technology & Informatics Institute for his seminar, “How To Make The Right Tech Investments For Your Organization: An OPEN MINDS Executive Seminar To Technology Budgeting & Planning.”

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