The IHR shares a common platform between its different components such as lab and radiology ordering and results, electronic prescribing, and hospital results and other documentation, making it easy to correlate a patient’s data and present it at the point of care. When combined with the ability to normalize data from multiple sources and easily access it over the Web, the IHR enables providers to benefit from a complete, patient-centered record that creates a unified, continuously updated view of each patient-care episode.
While the IHR can be used on its own, it also can be used to augment an existing EHR system by supplying connectivity. In addition, the IHR can be used for patient referrals and is capable of supporting the continuity of care document, or CCD, a standard format for data exchange among healthcare providers and health information exchanges. Interfaces with practice-management systems also allow the automatic transfer of patient demographic and insurance information to the IHR, making it seamless for providers.
The IHR utilizes decision-support tools to help physicians choose the appropriate tests, furnish complete information required, create necessary forms and labels, and transfer orders electronically. This helps to avoid errors and delays associated with handling paper orders. The entire cycle of processing orders and return of results is faster and more accurate. Nothing is ever lost, and every test is tied to the correct patient.
Another key component of an IHR is its ability to produce census-based access to hospital data for physicians using the same Web-based platform. An IHR utilizes integration techniques to enable physicians to view encounter-based patient charts for their patients from any location at any time. Moreover, a truly patient-centric IHR uses a master patient index with a record locator to collect all regional data on a patient from multiple providers, if the proper authorizations are obtained.
What this means to the practicing physician is that it is possible to assemble the actionable data needed to make informed medical decisions quickly, because the IHR offers a patient-centric chart that incorporates data across multiple organizations to give physicians a complete view of the patient health record.
Ravi Sharma— is president and CEO of 4medica.