The Benefits of Electronic Health Records (EHRs)

the PicnicHealth Team
May 1, 2020
Blog post originally written by the AllStripes community team. AllStripes was acquired by PicnicHealth in 2023.

Electronic health records, or EHRs, have been around for nearly 20 years, yet most would agree that the US healthcare system hasn’t come close to realizing the potential benefits from EHRs. Some of this stems from justified concerns about patient privacy, and some is simply from a lack of ability to connect different medical records, known as interoperability. Widespread adoption and interoperability are critical to helping patients capture the benefits of EHRs over paper medical records.

The Early Challenges in Using Electronic Health Records

President Bill Clinton signed into law the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), bolstering patient rights on several fronts, including allowing people to transfer their health insurance when they change jobs (hence the name). HIPAA’s bigger legacy has been in regulating how protected health information (PHI) must be handled to ensure privacy. While EHRs didn’t exist when HIPAA was passed, the law still governs how patient data is protected and shared among authorized healthcare as EHRs have become more widespread.

From 2001-2011, EHR usage jumped up to 57%, especially with the passing of the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act. Now, patients and healthcare providers all over the country can make the most of the benefits of digitized patient information.

Electronic Health Records For Improvement of Patient Care

For healthcare providers and patients alike, there are many benefits that come from using EHRs. Most of the benefits are geared towards speed and efficiency.

  • Medical transcription costs get significantly reduced because digitization of records eliminates the need for having to turn paper charts into electronic ones when they’re generated electronically in the first place.
  • Health workers no longer have to spend as much valuable time pulling paper charts or digging through storage. In a similar vein, hospitals and healthcare providers no longer have to keep as much storage space for physical files.
  • Documentation improves as well. It’s a lot easier to update records, and doctors are often better able to get patient information from past records (but only from those that are in the EHR system that they use). This leads to better health decisions, even if they aren’t 100% familiar with the patient. Say an individual gets rushed to a doctor who isn’t their primary care provider. If the healthcare facility has access to their EHR, the medical personnel there will be able to treat them as needed without missing any vital patient data. (Unfortunately, if the patient goes to a different facility that doesn’t use the same EHR system, they won’t get that benefit. Sadly, this is still all too common.)
  • There is a significant decrease in medication errors because a patient’s medication, prescription, and treatment information are all found in one place and updated in real-time as needed. There’s even an improvement in maintaining the treatments because medical personnel can keep a better eye on them.
  • Clinicians can get a better look at patient data. By carefully assessing the past and present changes in their condition, they can provide better treatment options.
  • Patient satisfaction can improve with the use of EHRs, as well. Because medical personnel can better care for the patients and take into account their medical history in the most updated manner, patients may be discharged faster or be able to connect with their doctor by phone or video, known as tele-health.
  • Doctors and medical personnel also benefit from EHRs through improved medical practice management. It’s easier to schedule appointments and update patient files when the EHRs are readily available. It’s even easier to give a referral or get a consult from another specialist if patient data gets promptly provided to someone who could be better suited to treating the patient.
  • Communication improves with clinicians, laboratories, and health plans as well. There is easy access to patient information, messages relaying lab requests and results are faster, and even formulary checks can get done automatically.

The digitization of patient records and the widespread use of EHR has provided many benefits for both patients and healthcare providers. While there is still a long way to go to fully realize all the benefits of EHRs, the potential is clear.

If you would like to get full access to your EHRs, visit


the PicnicHealth Team

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Create a List

List the names of all the doctors, hospitals, and other facilities your loved one visits regularly, along with those they have visited in the past. Try to go back as far as you can, striving for at least the last 5-10 years, but do your best. Even if you can’t remember them all, having a strong baseline can help you quickly identify gaps in records.

Ensure You Have the Appropriate Legal Status

It is important to make sure that you are fully empowered to make decisions on behalf of your loved one with Alzheimer’s. Your relationship status with the patient may not be enough to legally give you access to your loved one's medical information. It is a good idea to talk to an expert about securing special legal status, such as Power of Attorney (POA), a legal document that allows an individual to name someone as their decision maker should they no longer be able to make decisions on their own.

Gather and Organize the Medical Records in One Place

It’s important to have all of your loved one’s medical records together in one spot. This makes it much easier for you and your loved one’s physicians to accurately map the patient’s medical journey and more easily share information between doctors. Fortunately, tools exist to make record management and access simple. A free resource like PicnicHealth helps you collect and organize all of this information. PicnicHealth’s intuitive timeline allows you to pinpoint data across the medical history, eliminating your need for keeping heavy binders filled with paper records or keeping track of multiple software portal logins.

Review the Medical Records to be an Informed Advocate

The better you understand your loved one's medical history, the better you can advocate on their behalf. Access and understanding of this information will help you to ask informed questions with physicians. Through regular communication backed by the data in the medical records, you can help your loved one’s care team develop a more successful care plan.

Learn more about PicnicHealth’s commitment to the Alzheimer’s community and the Alzheimer’s Association

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Together, we can make a difference.

Learn more about PicnicHealth’s commitment to the Alzheimer’s community and the Alzheimer’s Association

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Build a support network.

When you’re juggling appointment times and insurance claims, putting a robust support system together might not strike you as the most urgent task. Investing the time to cultivate relationships with people can turn to in times of need will pay dividends. The next time you need a last-minute ride or just someone to listen, you won’t be on your own.

There are many condition-specific support groups and support groups for caregivers generally in person or online. In addition to the encouragement and empathy they provide, support groups can be a helpful source of tips, resources, and recommendations for navigating caregiving.


Stay organized.

The backbone of effective caregiving is organization. Keep medical information, appointment schedules, and medication lists in order. Use a planner or a digital service like PicnicHealth to stay on top of your responsibilities. This attention to detail can prevent future complications and reduce day-to-day stress.


Explore treatments and clinical trials.

We’ve seen incredible breakthroughs in treatment over the past couple of years, powered by patients and their caregivers participating in research. Stay in the loop about the latest in medical advancements and available resources that could benefit your loved one. Whether it’s a new therapy option or a community service that aids independence, being informed can make a world of difference in the quality of care you provide.


Make time for self-care.

It may seem self-centered to focus on self-care—but when you feel good, you can be a better caregiver. Whether it’s exercise, a mindfulness practice, a soak in the bath, or just time to rest when you need it, carve out those moments in the day when you can unwind, reset, and stay healthy mentally and physically. Think of it as building up your reserves of kindness, patience, and understanding—which can only benefit your loved one. No one can pour from an empty cup.

Having trouble managing your loved one's medical records?

Easily manage all of your loved one's medical records and contribute to ongoing Alzheimer's research with PicnicHealth.

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LC-FAOD Odyssey: A Preliminary Analysis, presented at INFORM 2021

Data from real-world medical records:

(from 13 patients with LC-FAOD)

16 yrs old

Median age at enrollment

38% Female

15 providers / patient

7.5 years of data / patient

Data from patient-reported outcome (PRO) survey

(from 13 patients with LC-FAOD)

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However, it's important to consult with a healthcare provider or registered dietitian to determine the appropriate amount of protein for your individual needs. In general, a diet with moderate protein intake (about 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight per day) is recommended for people with kidney diseases.

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