July 7, 2010 Volume 31, No. 33
Electronic health records increase efficiency, accuracy
Modern technology could help ease health worker shortage
In 20 years, approximately 72 million older adults will reside in the United States, almost double the current number, according to the U.S. Administration on Aging. Potential issues are compounded by the projected shortage of health care workers needed to provide elder care. As part of the solution, an interdisciplinary team of University of Missouri researchers is refining electronic health record technology to more efficiently meet increasing health care demands.
The MU researchers are developing an electronic health record system that encompasses standard health assessments and those obtained through new technologies. The goal is to increase efficiency and accuracy, improve patient outcomes and reduce costs for long-term care.
“As the use of emerging technologies increases along with the older population, maintaining complete and accurate patient information can be overwhelming,” says Marilyn Rantz, professor in MU’s Sinclair School of Nursing. “A comprehensive system that encompasses all measures, old and new, is the key to enhanced and efficient clinical decision making.”
The system is being tested at TigerPlace, an independent senior-living facility that helps residents age in place. According to the researchers’ initial findings, use of the electronic record system can enhance nursing care coordination and advance technology use and clinical research.
“New technologies to passively monitor older adults’ health are being developed and are increasingly commercially available,” Rantz says. “The challenge remains to integrate clinical information systems with passive monitoring data, especially in long-term care and home health settings, in order to improve clinical decision making and ensure patient records are complete.”
With access to comprehensive data, clinicians can make more informed clinical decisions, better perform risk assessments and provide risk-reducing interventions.