In the past decade, the digital boom has impacted the healthcare industry in many ways. EHR implementation in healthcare has seen patient information being moved from manual folders to electronic files. This practice was slowly but creatively overthrown. One of the most significant reforms in healthcare is the widespread switch from the paper-based storage system (EHR) to the electronic one. This blog discusses the common EHR implementation problems faced by providers and the solutions.
What is the importance of EHR?
A patient’s electronic health record, also known as an EHR in healthcare industry, is a digital file that stores and protects their information. This patient-centered record is accessible at any time by authorized providers, which simplifies the clinical workflow. EHR implementation is a critical segment of aggregating the patient’s medical history. It provides real-time access and details about the diagnosis, treatment plans, follow-up, medications, allergies, test results, and other information. EHR implementation provides access to digital health tools that are essential for decision-making. EHRs are more effective than manual processes and allow providers to be automated and thus make healthcare workflows more efficient and help them achieve their care-driven goals.
EHR is a must-have tool for both hospitals and private practitioners around the globe due to its many benefits. EHR promotes better healthcare outcomes and lowers costs for the patient and the healthcare provider. It reduces medical errors, which leads to better diagnosis and patient safety. It also facilitates better care coordination and patient engagement.
Top 10 EHR Implementation Challenges
It is not easy to implement an EHR in a healthcare organization. Implementing an electronic health record system can present many challenges. Knowing the potential challenges of EHR implementation in advance will allow providers to avoid data sharing, and help make the transition to digital storage easier. This is a list that providers need to be aware of when implementing EHR.
1 Implementation Cost
EHR implementation is expensive, so it is not surprising. EHR implementation and optimization will consume the largest portion of capital budget investments. According to a study, the cost of installing and purchasing an EHR system can range from $15,000 up to $70,000 for each provider. The implementation process can be divided into five parts: Setting up the hardware and software, as well as ongoing maintenance fees and costs. There may be unexpected expenses during implementation. Finding the financial resources to implement an EHR is a major challenge, particularly for smaller institutions.
Staff members continue to resist the idea of EHR implementation within the establishment. There are also health professionals who doubt the effectiveness of electronic health records. Because of the inability to integrate digitally, they may be reluctant to abandon the documentation process. Sometimes staff are unaware of technological advances and the benefits of EHR implementation. This causes delays in the implementation of EHR.
3 Training takes time
Staff must be trained on the new workflow before EHR systems can be implemented. Providers and medical staff must spend more time understanding the new system and adjust their work accordingly. This is both a tedious and time-consuming task for staff as well as the managers. Smaller and medium-sized businesses are concerned about losing business due to the training phase, which can create barriers for EHR implementation in their organization. Sometimes, staff might consider it unnecessary.
Providers may find it difficult to adjust to an EHR system that is not compatible with their existing workflow if it is insufficient. EHR systems are not designed to be universally compatible with all workflows. For example, a therapist’s workflow is different from that of a cardiologist. EHR software is less user-friendly due to design flaws or inadequate training. Patient health outcomes can be affected by compromised health care data.
5 Data Privacy
EHRs face another challenge: privacy concerns from patients and providers. Many stakeholders are concerned about the possibility of data leakage from a natural disaster or cyber attack. A federal policy has been established to ensure the confidentiality of personal data. An organization could be sued for millions of dollars if there is a security breach. It is therefore a major responsibility for the provider to ensure that the EHR systems are secure.
6 Data Migration
Staff will find it difficult to convert paper-based documents into digital records. The staff will have to enter data for hundreds of patients, so there may be large amounts of information. This is a major challenge for hospitals when implementing EHRs. The effort will be doubled if the format is not correct in the previous system.
7 Limitation on Technical Resources
This is one of many EHR implementation problems that small clinics and private practitioners often face. They may not have the resources to provide provider supervision or technical expertise. They might not have the hardware required to outfit the EHR solution. It can be costly to hire an experienced staff and purchase hardware. This is why small and medium-sized healthcare providers often delay the EHR implementation.
Interoperability allows integrated health data to be made available for easy information exchange with hospitals and providers. Interoperability allows providers and healthcare professionals to access patient data in a structured and consolidated manner. This helps them provide better care and delivery. EHR interoperability is essential to fully understand the patient’s health record. However, this remains one of major issues in electronic health records in order to transfer data properly. Interoperability is a problem that can hamper care coordination, and can prevent medical professionals from providing the necessary assistance.
9 Poor Planning
EHR implementation is more about a culture change than just a technological upgrade. The management changes required for EHR implementation are a challenge. It must be planned strategically and all parties involved should show their commitment. A lack of a structured plan for EHR implementation could lead to data breaches or cybersecurity threats to patient information. Without a lot of planning, it can be difficult to implement and sustain EHR systems successfully.
It is crucial to have effective communication between the IT vendor and the healthcare provider in order to build an EHR system that delivers the desired results. This is not a one-time task. It should be a continual process to meet all parties’ expectations. Provider feedback and concerns should be addressed and vendors should be able build the tools that the provider requires. Communication is essential to achieve the goals. This can lead to a lot of EHR problems when integrating data collection systems.
EHR Solutions to Overcome the Challenges
In recent years, the adoption rate for EHRs has increased rapidly. Consequently, both administrators and health IT professionals have developed strategic solutions to address the common problems faced by providers when implementing EHR. Here are some solutions for healthcare providers looking to build an efficient EHR system.
1 Create a Strategic Plan
A detailed strategic plan is the first step in EHR implementation. Designate the roles and responsibilities of the team members, identify physician champions, create support and dependence, and assign duties. Also, ensure that the team has contingency plans. The implementation phase can cause a decrease in productivity, workflow problems or patient irritation. Important point to keep in mind is that successful EHR implementation requires preparation.
2 Support in Clinical Research
It is well-known that healthcare and patient data are crucial components of clinical research. EHR systems are seamlessly implemented, which greatly improves data interoperability across the care continuum. Interoperability systems will allow providers to share data with scientists and researchers in order to facilitate their findings. Clinical researchers will have easy accessibility to the data they need.
3 Productivity Improvement
While there may be some challenges to EHR interoperability within the healthcare market, interoperable EHR system can save time, effort, as well as money. EHR implementation can reduce staff workload and increase productivity, allowing for better healthcare services. Digitization of data reduces redundancy, improves speed of processing patient data and speeds up data transmission to providers.
4 Partner Consultants
EHR implementation requires collaboration from all team members, including IT vendors, consultants and staff. After implementing electronic health records, everyone should share the overall vision and work together towards achieving it. This allows for the implementation to be completed on time, within budget, and with high usability.
5 Ensure Strong Leadership
Leaders should take proactive steps to improve the management to align the team with the EHR implementation process. To guide the implementation team, create a sub-committee made up of experienced leaders in different areas who are skilled in implementing IT systems. Strong leadership is key to the successful implementation of EHR technology and systems.
6 Providing a Better Patient Experience
When making decisions about the EHR implementation, consider how and why it will benefit patients. Patients’ needs are paramount in a value-based healthcare system. The patient is the largest user group of the EHR system. EHR interoperability can be improved and data privacy secured to maintain a stronger relationship with patients. This will also increase their loyalty to the company. This can lead to a better patient experience and better communication between providers and patients regarding health outcomes.
7 Patient Comes First
When making decisions about the EHR implementation, consider how and why it will benefit patients. The patient’s needs are paramount in a value-based healthcare system. The patient is the largest user group of the EHR system.
7 Follow the Timeline
While the EHR implementation process progresses, it can be difficult to meet deadlines. It is difficult to meet the deadlines while the EHR implementation process is being completed. Create a realistic plan and communicate with vendors and staff about how much each day will cost.
8 Get Plenty of Training
EHR implementation was designed to improve efficiency and streamline the process. Employees who fail to use the system efficiently and still follow the traditional methods will not achieve the goals and decrease patient satisfaction. Make sure to create a training program for your staff. Explain to them how the system benefits patients and makes their jobs easier. Encourage them to recognize milestones and offer additional payment if they work too hard.
Experts with in-depth knowledge about the workflow at the hospital and EHR system interoperability protocols are essential for successful implementation of EHR. Learn from experts who have successfully implemented EHR systems in a healthcare facility. This allows you to anticipate and quickly resolve any roadblocks.
EHR implementation is a common integration process for healthcare organizations. EHR systems that are user-certified and meaningful are a standard in today’s healthcare system. They also pose a risk for providers. With proper EHR implementation, they are one step closer to quality healthcare.
However, proper planning and strategic execution can help to overcome many obstacles that prevent the deployment of EHR. EHR systems must be tailored to fit the physician’s current workflow. This requires the help of IT professionals who are experienced in EHR systems and clinical workflows. Interoperability will allow for patient-centered care and improve providers’ knowledge about patient conditions. EHR will be a key enabler of the technological advancements in the future.