EHR gains ‘for starters’ and why providers are still skeptical about it

Electronic Health Record systems are the cause of a lot of debate in the healthcare industry at the moment. With the world in general adopting a more digital approach for virtually every aspect of our daily lives, it goes without saying that the medical field too has not been left behind. Many hospitals and medical institutions across the world are migrating from the analogue era of paper records to electronic, and in the process, transforming the way administration of healthcare is handled for good.

The adoption of EHR provides numerous benefits not only to physicians but also patients, providers and hospital employees in performing administrative duties alike.
A number of experts and health IT enthusiasts have outlined the gains EHR adoption stands to bring to the clinical care process, and this post highlights some of the general benefits you stand to gain, regardless of the vendor. However, these are also some of the issues you need to ascertain from the vendor that their solution addresses, prior to making a purchase.

Increased Efficiency and Productivity

By automating clinical protocols and population health management tools, EHRs offer providers a chance to improve patient care while decreasing their organization inefficiencies significantly. According to the Institute of Medicine, 1/3 of health care expenditures don’t improve health – an estimated $750 billion.

EHR tools ensure better information availability, less time spent locating paper charts, less time spent deciphering handwriting, enhanced information sharing and reduced paperwork. In addition, about 3/4 of private practices have stated that they have recognized faster and more accurate billing results after adopting an EHR.

Increased Patient Engagement and Satisfaction

There are EHR solutions that are equipped with tools capable of enhancing patient engagement and satisfaction, which lead to better of clinical outcomes and practice performance. Patient portals, on the other hand – provided by a few EHR vendors – give patients the opportunity to update their demographic information and perform other functions like request appointments, request refills, pose questions to say nurses and so on.

Moreover, cutting-edge EHR systems lead to patient satisfaction by offering patient education tools as well as enabling providers to generate email appointment reminders automatically.

Enhanced Quality of Care

EHR solutions rich in features can help increase automation, accelerate physician workflow, and improve practice operations, thereby prompting fast and seamless completion of tasks. Consequently, what you get is enriched collaboration between physicians and improved patient care.

Additionally, well-designed solutions can mean the difference between life and death for the health care provider. One of the reasons being that an EHR with a poor user experience will consume more of the physician’s time when executing everyday tasks, leaving less time for direct patient care, which results in low patient satisfaction. Not only that, a system with deficient usability can lead to physicians making medical errors that would be hard to reverse, examples include misdiagnosis and wrong prescriptions whose results could be disastrous for the patient. However, a highly performing reliable EHR system used to its full potential will doubtlessly result in higher quality of care.

Why are healthcare providers skeptical about adopting EHR?

Despite the benefits that everyone stands to gain from EHR systems, if we exclude the countries with attractive incentives there hasn’t been a scramble for the same as one would expect. The main reason behind the reservations stands from the fact that there is a fear of wasting time and funds on the supposed wrong system.

Back in 2006 when the NCHS first reported information on EHR adoption, the rate stood at paltry 10.5%. In the recent years we’ve seen the basic EHR adoption rate rise significantly, mostly due to the introduction of incentive payment programs. For instance, in 2011 the adoption rate reached 33.1%,  the year after, following a slight increase, the rate stood at 39.1%, and in 2013 the figure reached 48.1%.

Even lower adoption rate is found pertaining to fully functional EHRs. In 2013, for instance, the adoption rate was 31.1 percent, up from 23.5 percent in 2012 and 16.8 percent in 2011. Cost stood out as one of the biggest obstacles in the adoption. Additionally, poor usability of products in the marketplace made them onerous, and as such, not really worth the effort.

‘Surprisingly’, the number of buyers who want to swap their EHR is also rising, reaching 40% in the first quarter of this year.
You could argue that times have changed, with more cost-effective, friendlier systems being released as the industry itself heats up for a share of the pie.

However, just like with every new growing technology in whatever sector, there tends to be misgivings about it, and EHR systems have not been spared the backlash. With careful research and planning before migrating to the system to establish the best product suitable for an individual case though, making the shift has more benefits than downsides.

Now, before you find yourself cursing another EHR vendor, take your time to research and make sure you don’t jump any of the following steps: investigate the system’s user experience, evaluate the system’s ability to connect and perform a cost-effective check. We will elaborate the guide to choosing an EHR in a future article so double check our blog and follow us on the social networks to stay in touch.

Image by Abraj -Flickr