Advanced technology like Electronic Health Records (EHR) has changed the way healthcare professionals operate. Gone are the days when medical records were mostly paper-based.
A recent article of Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association highlighted that paper record-keeping was simple, accepted widely and very low cost of implementation, however, EHR can improve healthcare. Paper records block the healthcare services because of illegibility, high cost for storing files, and inconvenience to access files remotely.
By implementing EHRs, physicians have organized records. Also, there is support for prescriptions, and orders to offer more efficient and quality patient care.
Despite the positive results and effects of EHRs usage in healthcare, the adoption rate of EHRs is still very low, this is because hospitals and healthcare continuously face many challenges in adopting, maintaining their electronic health record systems.
Challenges in implementation of EHR can occur in different areas including problems such as training, data-sharing, lack of patient adoptions.
TimeMany physicians, mostly those working in small practices, admit that they fear to lose their business as a result of putting their right amount of time in deploying EHRs. Also, physicians fear putting additional time for data entry and record keeping. Many EHR practice management platforms, however, offer customizable and efficient data entry workflows using templates and wizards that greatly reduce the time taken for patient medical record keeping.
TrainingHospital staff needs additional training related to the EHR practice management platform and its workflows. Effectively training users and staff before and during the adoption of EHRs is important to reduce the challenges related to low productivity and avoiding a condition in which users become dissatisfied and frustrated due to lack of proper training.
CostFew physicians don't have enough cash on hand to invest in an EHR system. Plus there is an inability to calculate the total amount of cost when training, support, and maintenance are taken into account. For small practices, without large IT budgets, the cost will always remain the biggest obstacle in the implementation of EHRs.
InteroperabilitySince long, interoperability is the biggest challenge in EHR space. Interoperability is an important factor as it reduces the electronic health record's cost. Interoperability is a vital factor, it can reduce rework by physicians also it makes it more feasible for small groups of doctors to adopt EHR with an assurance that their investment will be worthwhile and its system would be able to integrate and interoperate with other EHR systems.
Data MigrationMoving towards an electronic system from a paper-based system could result in data loss. Data entry and scanning documents can be time-consuming tasks. The main purpose of moving towards an electronic system is not to archive all paper records, but to move critical information of patients' medical history for future access.
InteractionImplementing an Electronic Health Record is more than a functional IT task. To adopt a fully functional system, care providers and IT staff need to interact and communicate freely, openly and effectively. It's like a two way street of sharing knowledge. IT staff want their physicians to have tools for the treatment of their patients. Providers want their feedback to be included in their fixes and advancement of EHR systems.
Patient acceptancePractices usually adopt a new system to improve their quality and service by engaging patients, which can effectively improve patient's outcomes. But any goals of improving patient engagement can't be achieved until and unless patients are not able or unwilling to adopt EHR features such as patient portal, which improves patient engagement. It is equally important for patients to adopt EHRs.
Suitable VendorsOne of the obstacles in the adoption of EHRs is the lack of technical training and support from vendors. Hence, the quality of vendors of EHR systems is vital for the adoption of EHR. Care providers are concerned that vendors are not suitable and qualified enough to offer proper service and technical support which results in a large financial loss. Adoption of Electronic Health records, just like any other technology depends on users that are willing to see how technology is useful and easily understood with little or no difficulty.
Well, there are many benefits and challenges related to EHRs. As the healthcare sector is ready to transform, these growing difficulties will ultimately resolve. To have a positive impact on the EHR system, care providers should be able to use these systems effectively. By considering these factors care providers will be able to use EHRs effectively, which in turn will improve safety and quality of care. The focus should be reducing the clerical work of care providers while continuously improving safety, quality, communication, efficiency, and patient engagement.