The adaptation and development of information technology for the healthcare industry has moved treatment modalities rapidly forward and has greatly improved the way we deliver healthcare. Now, technology has become an essential component of the business model - whether in a major county hospital system, a small rural urgent care or a specialized practice such as podiatry.
The ability of electronic medical records systems to support tracking of patient info and coordination of resources within a clinical environment to improve the efficiency of the operation (effectively increasing response times) and to guide treatment have proven to be invaluable to both medical administrators as well as the care providers.
Despite the proven effectiveness of electronic health records and electronic medical records software, there is still widespread pushback on adoption of these software systems. This has to do with a number of common barriers.
1. Adding Older Records into an Electronic Health Record System
The idea of having to manually key in old patient data is a put off to many clinicians and their administrative staff. With split records, the clinical environment would be forced to continue working off old records while using the new electronic medical records system.
EHR systems with image archival capabilities can integrate scanned records into fully electronic health records systems. In addition, states are working toward creating databases (such as immunization records) that will interface with electronic medical records systems such as those used by clinicians, to make it easier for the health care provider to access data and maintain more accurate and up to date medical records - without endless manual entry.
2. Synchronization of Electronic Health Records
When you operate a practice, you don't expect a patient to rely solely on your facility. In off hours, on vacation, when the schedule is booked, etc. they may travel to another facility for treatment and consultation. In addition, they may work with a specialized physician outside of your facility, such as a cardiac specialist. When care is provided at two different facilities, it can be difficult to coordinate records in the traditional fashion and charting method.
Electronic medical records companies are continually working to overcome challenges where electronic patient data matches up and can be easily synchronized. Standardization of medical documentation is one way these systems are improving data storage as well as healthcare delivery.
3. Privacy Issues with Electronic Medical Records
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA) was passed in the US in 1996 to establish rules for access, authentications, storage and auditing, and transmittal of electronic medical records. This standard made restrictions for electronic records more stringent than those for paper records. Despite that, clinicians are still concerned to some degree as to the privacy of records
In nearly every reported event of a HIPPA violation pertaining to medical records, the fault is typically traced back to poorly developed software systems that lack proper encryption. The key for your practice is to make a smart decision about working with an established and respected electronic medical records company that supports individual file and full disk encryption
4. Electronic Medical Records System Downtime
This is one of the more troubling barriers for clinicians. If you rely on an electronic data system, and it crashes, where does that leave you? Any number of issues could cause downtime including power outages, hard drive failures, cable failures over a network, hardware failures for WiFi, switches and routers, software corruption and network outages.
The first thing to remember is that while the EHR streamlines operations in the clinical environment, it doesn't rely on them 100% for healthcare to function. Patients can still be treated. If the vast majority of your concern is a local issue and the expense of storing and maintaining equipment locally then there are web based electronic medical records solutions (SaaS EHR) where all data and EHR software is stored on a secure server off-site.
Granted, even in a secure, co-located fashion, there can still be software and hardware issues. Modern technology is much more reliable than it computers 20 years ago though, so the benefits of using electronic medical record systems outweighs the risks of outages and downtime.