Many behavioral health experts now use electronic health records (EHRs) to help reduce errors, improve cost-effectiveness, and better share patient information among providers and facilities.
But what really started this trend? Despite the recent growth in the use of EHRs, this technology has a vibrant history that goes back more than a century.
How Old Are EHRs? Older Than You Think
In the early 1900s, when the Mayo Clinic was still young, Dr. Henry Plummer helped the hospital develop a registration system and uniform medical record for keeping track of patients’ medical information. This system became part of Mayo Clinic’s infrastructure, contributing to its growth as a world-famous hospital. Decades later, Mayo Clinic would become one of the first hospitals to implement an EHR system.
According to Becker’s Health IT and CIO Report, some form of EHR to store patient data has been around since the 1960s. Only a few hospitals and physicians used them, however, since they came at a high cost when the technology was new. Early EHRs were primarily used in government, research, and military health centers.
As the technology developed further in the second half of the 20th century, more physicians used computers in their practices. By 1991, the Institute of Medicine had a goal for all physicians to use computers in their practice by the year 2000. Just because they used computers, however, did not necessarily mean that the practice used a full EHR system. Even when a practice implemented EHRs, compatibility and interoperability among different providers and EHR systems became persistent problems.
In 2004, an executive order under President George W. Bush created the Office of the National Coordinator of Health Information Technology. This led to a call for nationwide EHR use by 2014.
EHR Growth in the Last Decade
President Barack Obama supported the mandate for widespread EHR use, and included EHRs in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009. This legislation aimed to modernize the U.S. healthcare system.
ARRA also provided additional funding to providers who adopted EHRs and followed the concept of “meaningful use” by 2014. The idea of “meaningful use” centered on improving quality of care, reducing health disparities, and protecting personal health information.
True to its history of health innovations, the Mayo Clinic also led the way in expanding EHR use. Between 2013-2015, the Mayo Clinic began the process of unifying its various practices to encourage the sharing of information, both inside and outside its health system. In 2015, Mayo Clinic CIO Christopher Ross announced that the system would move to a single EHR. That major change began to go live earlier in 2018.
Between 2001 and 2011, physician use of EHRs grew from 18 percent to 57 percent, according to HealthIT.gov.
Future Developments and Predictions
As patient needs and demands change, so will the needs of healthcare practices. EHR solutions will continue to evolve to meet those needs. Improved communication and interoperability will remain top priorities among providers and EHR companies.
BestNotes EHR software solutions helps behavioral health and addiction treatment professionals save time and money in their practices and provide greater care to patients. Contact us to learn what we can do for you.