Posted By Arnav Mathur On February 8, 2022

EHR Apps Study Spells the Future of Healthcare

integrating apps

EHR apps are not new yet since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of apps integrating with Electronic Health Record systems (EHRs) has increased significantly. A study on apps integrating with EHRs was conducted from December 2019 to December 2020 by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC). The study showed that the number of apps that had integrated with EHRs had increased from 600 to 734 (roughly a 20% increase) over the course of 2020.

Type of apps integrating with EHRs

There were several types of EHR apps that integrated with EHRs during the height of the pandemic. Administrative apps that handled scheduling, check in, and billing made up 42% of available apps. Clinical apps were also common, making up 38% of apps. These apps can perform automated tasks, population health, telehealth, and clinical decision support. Other apps focused on care management, patient engagement, and research. Those three combined categories made up about 56% of apps.

Reason for study

The goal of the study about EHR apps was to set a guideline for the app market before the ONC Cures Act Final Rule was implemented. The final rule, which was published in March 2020, and was effective as of April 2021, and set several conditions to promote transparent and competitive business practices. Those practices would ease the adoption and use of application programming interfaces by third party app developers.

What study results mean for the future of EHR Apps

In this study, the data showed that there is still room for growth and variation in the EHR apps available. Updates to the ONC Health IT Certification Program (which resulted from the ONC Cures Act Final Rule) are meant to support a more powerful system of third party apps. 

By the end of 2022, It will be mandatory for health IT developers to support FHIR based APIs for patients (and the general public). They will also have to follow the new conditions and maintenance of certification to promote and practice business. 

The ONC will continue to conduct such research in the future to see what changes may need policy changes, which could help increase the speed of data change.

What healthcare professionals should watch out for

These apps more easily provide accessible data between patients and other healthcare professionals. They allow patients more accessibility to you and their medical records. They ease your billing and claims processes. They integrate with your external devices like patient scanners and fax machines. 

This study and any new resulting guidelines or policy changes help push the future of your healthcare forward from a technology perspective. It also sets standards to hold health IT developers and third party app providers to, so that you can be ensured you have the best tools available to treat your patients. 

Continue to track these ONC studies and standards set for EHR apps. 

If you are shopping for a new Electronic Health Records solution, ensure vendors only integrate with reputable third party apps vendors which are ahead of the curve on following these standards. Or, look out for EHR companies that develop their own apps and are an ONC certified solution so that you can ensure you have the most up to date technology that can best serve you and your patients.

About Patagonia Health

Patagonia Health is a living Electronic Health Record (EHR) software designed to meet the complex needs and desired health outcomes of Public Health and Behavioral Health organizations. Our federally certified, easy-to-learn platform includes integrated practice management and billing software so you get one end-to-end solution. Employee-owned and organically grown, our mission is to support your business with software and service that allows you to provide your patients with the care they deserve. If you’d like more information about our solutions, contact us today.

About Arnav Mathur

Arnav Mathur is a Marketing Associate at Patagonia Health. He conducts market research regarding electronic health records and reaches out to clinics across the United States to see what Patagonia Health can provide for them. He also writes content for public and behavioral health while combining his business skill sets and customer focus to help push healthcare IT forward.