From your favorite television show to the saga of your best friend’s dating life, continuity is important. It’s especially important when it comes to healthcare. Continuity equals consistency, and consistency is crucial for quality. Whether you’re focused on prevention or on managing a chronic condition, knowing where you’ve been and where you are helps you determine where you’re going. So how do patients and providers achieve healthcare continuity?
Continuity of care encompasses a pattern of high-quality healthcare over time. It’s more than the consistent delivery of good healthcare by a single provider, though. Continuity of care minimizes fragmentation within the patient’s entire care team, allowing their primary providers to coordinate the patient’s healthcare future effectively and safely.
For a single health problem, continuity of care may not seem like a big deal. The patient might only see one or two providers and will be able to relay information between the two. But over the course of a patient’s life, continuity of care is critical. A surgery might cause complications years later in the midst of a new health problem. The patient’s care team must be able to contextualize their medical history and current symptoms to forge the correct path forward.
The cornerstone of continuity of care is a comprehensive patient record. Without a detailed history of data, testing, imaging, medications, and care plans, neither patients nor providers have any way of keeping track of what they’ve gone through and what’s yet to come.
EHR provides access to a person’s entire health history — all in one place, accessible at any time. This type of access is critical in all kinds of healthcare scenarios, from the patient who’s switching to a new primary care provider to the cancer patient seeing multiple specialists in different hospitals each year.
Providers must strive for total accuracy and completion across an EHR as well as full collaboration. This last point is what makes EHR so successful. When providers use the information available to them and add to it comprehensively, the patient and any future providers have a clear view of both their health history and the healthcare plan moving forward.
With EHR in place, both patients and providers can expect a simpler, more seamless healthcare experience. The collaboration and integration between health teams can have widespread benefits.
For patients, continuity of care made possible through a comprehensive EHR allows them to stay informed, aware, and in control of their health over time. Access to their own up-to-date healthcare information can improve medical literacy and encourage them to advocate and take an active role in their own health needs, regardless of the provider they’re seeing. Patients may also experience reduced difficulty in seeking care and better health outcomes.
For providers, a comprehensive EHR allows for more informed and insightful decision-making during every patient visit, directly at the point of care. Medical professionals are able to administer better care at a lower cost and time investment thanks to having the data they need at their fingertips.
Modern, forward thinking EHR technology is a critical component of care continuity. It’s a record of every touchpoint in a person’s healthcare journey, complete with all the important details contributing to their overall picture of health. With continuity comes better decision-making, better understanding, and — most importantly — better patient outcomes.
Learn more about EHR and continuity of care at evident.com.