Benefits of Electronic Health Records

Widespread use of electronic health records (EHRs) will help change the health care system for the better, similar to how the use of technology has revolutionized other types of businesses by making them more convenient, empowering consumers, and improving customer service. Once EHR systems are in place, the possibilities for improving prevention and treatment are vast.

The video below explains how patients benefit when their health care providers use EHRs.


Listed below are a few examples of how EHRs will improve Vermont’s health care system for patients and consumers.

Emergency department visits
Instant access to a patient’s complete health information will reduce the chances of making mistakes when identifying the causes of medical problems and recommending treatments. In today’s health care system, it is often up to the patient or a family member to relay important medical information to a health care practitioner. This is usually done from memory, under stressful conditions. It is very hard to remember everything correctly. If the patient cannot speak, and a family member isn’t present, the chance of incomplete or inaccurate information increases dramatically. EHRs will reduce that risk because each patient’s information would be quickly accessible on the computer screen.

Managing a chronic condition
For Vermonters living with long-term diseases, EHRs can make monitoring and controlling the illnesses much easier for both patients and health care practitioners. Vermonters who must monitor their conditions on a regular basis, such as daily blood pressure readings, can have that information sent electronically to the EHR of their health care practitioner. If a problem arises, the health care practitioner is alerted immediately and contacts the patient to give instructions.

Vermont has developed a leading-edge program for helping people with chronic conditions manage and improve their health. The Blueprint for Health uses community care teams to provide additional education and assistance to Vermonters with conditions like diabetes. EHRs are an important part of the Blueprint for Health, because they enable large amounts of patient information to be stored electronically and analyzed to identify potential improvements in patient care.

Duplicate tests
When a Vermonter visits a new hospital or doctor, there is a good chance the health care provider does not have access to results of tests done previously in other locations. Getting those results takes time, so the new provider may decide to redo the tests. Unnecessary duplicate tests drive up health care costs for all of us. Having a patient’s health history immediately available in an EHR helps determine which tests are a priority and may eliminate the need to run some tests.

Better diagnoses
EHRs show health care practitioners a more comprehensive picture of the patient’s health history. With better information available, practitioners can deliver better care to Vermonters because they have more data to use when identifying a problem and determining how to best treat it.

Community care
Vermonters are served by a network of community hospitals, as well as several larger “teaching” hospitals. EHRs allow practitioners in smaller and larger hospitals to communicate more effectively, which means as Vermonters travel from place to place, their information will follow them.

For example, a patient may come to the emergency department of a community hospital because of chest pain. The physician at the community hospital determines that the pain is being caused by a blockage in the heart. The patient is sent immediately to a larger hospital to have the blockage opened. When the patient arrives, practitioners at the larger facility have access to the information gathered in the EHR at the smaller hospital. Likewise, when the patient returns to the community hospital for follow-up care, the health care practitioner there can use the EHR to access information about the procedure done at the larger hospital. Sharing data like this improves care in all settings.