Healthcare institutions and providers are transitioning from outdated paper record keeping to electronic health record technology. According to HealthIT.gov, nearly 9 in 10 (86%) office-based physicians have adopted any EHR, and nearly 4 in 5 (80%) have adopted a certified EHR. These statistics illustrate a demand for technologically advanced solutions, as it increases patient access to health information, encourages data sharing amongst providers, increases practice efficiency, the overall quality of care, and more. Though with clear benefits, many providers are still resistant. We’ve outlined common EHR implementation challenges below and ways to overcome them, in hopes of reassuring those with doubts.
Electronic health records (EHRs) are real time, digital compilations of patient health data that is available instantly and are transmitted securely to authorized individuals, provided they have internet access. EHR systems are comprehensive and include, not only clinic data but also:
Patient medical history
Doctors seen in the past
Lab test and results
Treatment and medication plans
Age, weight, and other physical identifiers
Integrated EHRs provide access to historical data, informing decisions made over patients and their overall care plans. According to HealthIT.gov, one of the key features of EHRs is that health information can be created and managed by authorized providers in a digital format. Integrated EHR systems are built to share information with other health care providers and organizations – such as laboratories, specialists, medical imaging facilities, pharmacies, emergency facilities, and school and workplace clinics. This capability of being shareable with other providers across more than one health care organization improves care outcomes and overall patient health.
An integrated EHR system promotes connectivity amongst all health practitioners, offices, and facilities involved in patient care. Patients also have access to this information through patient portals. These integrated systems provide instant access to patient records. You can share records with other providers, update them in real time, and ensure everyone is on the same page to provide the best care for patients. This system also automates and streamlines workflows.
If you’re still relying on paper files, here are a few reasons to make the switch to a fully digitized, integrated EHR/EMR system.
Reduces Errors and Risks: An integrated data system houses easily accessible and comprehensive medical records, speeding up diagnostics. While EHRs contain and transmit data, it also analyzes it. For instance, these systems cross check a patient’s current medication and allergies and alerts the medical team of potential conflicts. Additional benefits include, clinical alerts and reminders, enhances research and
Increases Practice Efficiency: with 30% of time dedicated to time consuming administrative tasks, EHR integrations digitize and automate these job functions. This time can then be reallocated and spent on more important tasks. For instance, these systems can be integrated with scheduling platforms to link appointments directly to progress notes, it can also automate billing, coding, and prescription refills, manage claims, etc.
Increase Patient Satisfaction: through patient portals, patients have access to all of their medical records, lab tests and results, can communicate with care team immediately, and it reduces paperwork. This accessibility to resources empowers patients to become more active in their care solutions, yielding more positive results in overall health and increased satisfaction.
Below are the most common EHR implementation challenges we see among healthcare providers. Knowing how to address them now will save you time when integrating an EHR system.
One of the main reasons healthcare organizations resist EHR integration lies in the cost. Though it is proving to be a smart investment. A properly implemented system leads to greater revenue, reduced costs, and increased efficiency.
Some EHR and EMR systems are not functional. Rather than being intuitive and user friendly, they are poorly designed, alerts fire at inappropriate times and too often, hinders accurate data entry, they’re difficult to navigate, which can all hinder adoption in practices, clinics, etc. These issues also lead to mistakes, frustration, and can impede workflows and productivity rather than increase efficiency. Lack of usability is a serious problem. Compromised medical data can have fatal consequences.
According to David Lareau, CEO of Medicomp Systems, a provider of physician-driven point-of care solutions that fix EHRs, EHR usability can be improved by leveraging “artificial intelligence (AI)-based technologies that improve workflows and make patient and problem-specific information more accessible at the point of care.” Using AI technologies, organizations can use tools to quickly identify and interpret clinical data from multiple reference points to improve patient care and minimize frustrations and a breakdown in workflows.
Healthcare professionals may be hesitant to switch to EHR systems believing it to be counterproductive. They have to be updated every few years, updating new systems with existing patient data is an exhaustive task, and so on. However, not making the switch could prove to be an even bigger risk. Choosing to not transition to digital solutions could result in regulation violations, a decrease in revenue, increased clinical turnover, and impaired practice workflows. EHRs are programmed with robust security features and have an intrinsic ability to protect sensitive information from hackers and data breaches. They come programmed with standard security protocols, such as ONC-ATCB certifications, audit trails, protected passwords, and data encryptions.
Ask your software developer about ONC and HIPAA certifications and ensure your system is programmed with the above security protocols.
Migrating from an old system to a new one presents its own set of challenges. The main concern here is preserving the integrity of data during the transition. According to Robert Havasy, MS, managing director of the Personal Connected Health Alliance at HIMSS, “partnering with a third-party abstraction partner can help hospitals and other provider organizations more effectively plan, manage, and implement a comprehensive, long-term data integration strategy”. Teri Burley, managing senior program director at Leidos Health, also agrees that bringing in a third party could provide a solution to the data migration issue, saying, “a third-party, ideally, will have expertise in your EHR and will be able to ensure that data is migrated in a uniform manner — with the correct coding, populating the appropriate tables, and ensuring the integrity of all data integration between databases.”
Healthcare interoperability refers to the ability of several programs to share information and work together. If your EHR or EMR system cannot communicate with other systems, you lose much of the value of electronic records and data. Interoperability is essential to a functioning EHR system. The 2019 Medicare and Medicaid Promoting Interoperability Programs law created incentives for increased EHR integration. Despite passage of the law, interoperability remains an elusive goal for some EHR systems.
To address this challenge, ask your software provider about features that facilitate communication among networks. These include cloud-based systems, blockchain and application programming interfaces (API). An experienced provider will have several solutions for your EHR interoperability problems.
Are you ready to experience the reduced costs, increased practice efficiency, and greater security of an EHR system? At Chetu, we have extensive knowledge and experience in EHR and EMR integrations and develop custom, integrated systems that are interoperable, intuitively designed, easy to navigate, etc. while also meeting regulatory standards. Contact us today!
Chetu, Inc. does not affect the opinion of this article. Any mention of specific names for software, companies or individuals does not constitute an endorsement from either party unless otherwise specified. All case studies and blogs are written with the full cooperation, knowledge and participation of the individuals mentioned. This blog should not be construed as legal advice.
Chetu was incorporated in 2000 and is headquartered in Florida. We deliver World-Class Software Development Solutions serving entrepreneurs to Fortune 500 clients. Our services include process and systems design, package implementation, custom development, business intelligence and reporting, systems integration, as well as testing, maintenance and support. Chetu's expertise spans across the entire IT spectrum.
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