Patient safety is the culmination of policies and practices healthcare companies utilize to reduce preventable harm. Despite the significant strides the healthcare industry has made to improve patient safety, there are still several areas for improvement. Data availability, medication errors, and knowledge of important health events are all areas where patient safety is still lacking.
Though privacy is always a concern, a national health record may be the key to mitigating these current safety issues.
Timely, Accurate Communication
The current healthcare landscape often relies on unrelated healthcare entities or self-reporting from patients to communicate medical events such as hospitalizations or emergency room visits. Ultimately, patients carry the majority of that burden, which can put their safety at significant risk.
Patient harm caused by the care they receive – and not from their illness, condition, or disease – is classified as a preventable adverse event. Though human error will always play a part in these events, the lack of timely and accurate data is often the culprit.
To truly protect patients, healthcare organizations need accurate, detailed, and timely communication of medical events and the care patients received. This is possible through a national health record.
The switch from paper records to electronic health records (EHRs) was essential to reducing medication errors and elevated guideline adherence. This can be taken one step further with a national health record. Instead of being limited to what is in a provider’s EHR, a standard drug utilization review (DUR) could include every medication a patient needs.
A DUR accounts for drug-to-disease/allergy complications, drug-to-drug contraindications, dosage, duplicative treatment, and a variety of other precautions. If providers and pharmacists had complete visibility into a patient’s medications, they could provide better treatment and reduce the risk of complications.
Clinical Decision Support
A national health record also offers patient safety advantages when it comes to clinical decision support. EHRs either come with clinical decision support built in or offer plug-and-play modules for purchase. These clinical decision support packages offer teams general best practices, but they are also able to be personalized based on the medical history and medications of individual patients.
Real-time, comprehensive information provided by national health records would promote more-informed decisions and greatly improve patient outcomes. A specific example of how a national health record would benefit is with the reduction of preventable readmissions. When it comes to patients who are at risk for readmission, a care team can build a discharge plan that highlights issues that could lead to readmission.
Generally speaking, the more information a care team has at their fingertips, the safer patients are.