HTN Now: Penny Kehagioglou on the future of e-health records

For the latest edition of HTN Now, focusing on all things relating to electronic patient records, transformation and change, Doctor Penny Kehagioglou joined us to discuss five ways in which e-health records can be transformed to serve population and workforce needs.

Penny has a wealth of experience and expertise to share as Chief Clinical Information Officer and Deputy Chief Medical Officer at University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire, Consultant Clinical Oncologist, Doctor in Business Administration and Functional Medicine Coach.

The future of e-health records (EHRs)

Digitisation of health records is happening at a large scale in the NHS, with some integrated care systems (ICSs) being on the forefront of technological innovation and others following close behind. NHS organisations are trying to leverage the latest in computer technology, data cloud repositories and analytic capabilities of electronic health record systems to be able to advance clinical decision-making, making it more accurate and faster. Such data analytics capabilities are used intelligently in areas such as online shopping lists, holiday bookings and financial forecasting, and people are accepting that machines are capable of making smart and accurate suggestions that guide their decision-making.

Advanced data analytic capabilities can be a revolution in healthcare as we can understand our populations better and we are able to meet people’s care needs more effectively.

But how can we use e-health records to make the lives of our communities healthier by enabling people to make healthier choices? And how can we use e-health records to improve care experiences and workforce satisfaction?

Here are five innovative suggestions of how we could transform e-health records to serve our population and workforce needs:

  1. e-health records as repositories of healthcare information
    Just as we rely on our intelligent devices to come up with our favourite shopping lists or healthier food choices, we could program our EHRs to record and remind people of important medical appointments, such as attending a mammogram every three years or a dental check-up every year. Our smart health records can flag and alert us if we don’t attend clinic appointments or if our vital signs are not normal so we can seek medical help, as they link in with our smart watches. e-health records could serve as libraries for self-help information, for management of minor conditions and could include simple algorithmic scores that determine when people need to seek medical help or external support.
  2. e-health records democratising health
    Our digital health history is the same whichever integrated care system in UK we happen to live in and yet it is not visible if we move away from one system to another, and we end up needing to access care elsewhere as an emergency. EHRs need to communicate with each other up and down the country so that people can access care wherever they are and they can have autonomy in choosing where they want to receive care. The implementation of EHRs should democratise healthcare rather than depriving people of choice, but for this to be achieved, we need to build the infrastructure and connectivity between primary, hospital, social and voluntary care across the country.
  3. e-health records creating citizen value
    There are many ways that value outcomes can be accomplished through EHRs, one example being the functionality of booking treatment and diagnostic appointments closer to people’s homes, based on individual’s address. Taking this a step further, patients can be matched to the right service based on their individual needs, using intelligent e-triage tools from home. Linking up patients with specialist needs, such as people who have been diagnosed with or who are undergoing treatment for cancer, with available units running clinical trials well suited for them, is another example of a value-adding capability of EHRs. Maximising community care through buddying patients up with social prescribers and health coaches in the community, is another benefit; one through which EHRs can empower people to have control over their own health.
  4. e-health records connecting healthcare professionals
    With the ability to view the whole patient journey from the clinic or remotely, clinicians can utilise the information to request second opinion about the care of complex cases from colleagues in other areas of the country. The ability to pull the complete patient profile, health care journey and clinical outcomes can be used as an educational tool around best practice during in-person or virtual grand rounds.
  5. e-health records promoting research and innovation
    Optimising the adoption and proper utilisation of EHRs will result in the systematic collection of accurate and high- quality data from different sources in one place. Datasets can be safely retrieved for the purpose of answering important research questions and for piloting new technological innovations. We can also learn more about populations and individual patient groups or communities so we can target better care, through linking key datasets together.

The future of electronic health records is promising and exciting. Maximising end-user adoption and commitment to accurate data recording is key to ensure we don’t miss important information and or unintentionally introduce bias in our data. If we leverage their multiple capabilities well, we will very quickly see their value-adding benefits materialising.

Many thanks to Penny for kindly contributing to HTN Now.