Since the implementation of electronic health records (EHR), patients are receiving more standardized quality healthcare and more efficient billing options. This digital revolution did not only help the patients and healthcare facilities in keeping records, but also researchers and big data aggregators. They can use the record (with the patient’s consent) for research, clinical trials, public reporting, analysis, certification, marketing purposes, etc.
The secondary use of the system enables both the healthcare providers and patients to benefit greatly. However, there’s a darker side to the picture as well. Some undesirable uses could even prevent people from adopting this technology. A breach of personal information can be one example.
EHRs help healthcare providers to keep and maintain the records for thousands of patients. They are also integrated with management tools for prescribing medicine to increase the proficiency of the system. In short, the effective use of digital EHR systems serve broadened patient care services in the hands of healthcare providers.
Even with these potential benefits, physicians and healthcare providers hesitate in switching to Electronic Health Record systems. This is because there are, in fact, some critical challenges that come with adopting the new technology.
Challenges in using electronic health records systems
Here are some of the barriers that might be challenging for most of the physicians who resist in adopting this technology:
Many physicians and healthcare professionals must wrestle monetary issues while thinking about using EHRs. The main question that arises in everyone’s mind is the cost of implementation. How much will it cost to switch to the digital system? If the cost is agreeable and answer is ‘yes let’s make the switch,’ the next question is: ‘will it benefit my medical practice in the long run?’
Uncertainty of ROI, high implementation costs, start-up expenses, and limited financial resources are some of the core challenges that physicians face.
Electronic health systems are data-embedded, hi-tech systems that require sufficient technical knowledge. Not everyone is tech-savvy and ready to invest his or her time in learning the software. The system can only run smoothly if the healthcare provider has ample technical knowledge and computer skills. Issues herein include:
- No access to technical training courses
- Technical limitations of the system
- Lack of reliability and personalization
- System complexity
- Lack of technical support for the providers
- Lack of technical skills
A non-obstructive and smooth workflow is essential for physicians to monetize their services. However, EHR software might slow down the workflow and cause disruptions in a physician’s routine.
It takes time to implement software, learn it, customize it and use it to save health records. Adapting the given tools and entering data can be difficult for some of the physicians. As a result, it will slow down their work and they will end up with a loss of revenue. Time barriers include:
- Time to integrate the system with available tools
- Time to learn the software properly
- More time in entering patients’ records
- More time consumed in converting patients’ record into data
- More time consumed in purchasing, selecting and implementing a software
To overcome the barrier of having EHR software, one must have the proper computer skills and assistance from multiple parties. Physicians who are to get these kinds of software need help from vendors, IT service providers, medical billing companies, government, and insurance companies to make sure that their revenue cycle is not disturbed. Only then can they successfully grow their revenue and afford to run the system smoothly. The reality is that regardless of assistance, there are still some barriers that cannot be crossed out.
Strategies to overcome the possible barriers that physicians should consider
- Maximum assistance, open communication, support and leadership from vendors and management
- Consider the pros and cons of a system for the physicians as well as the patients. After that, finding help from physicians good in using the EHR software
- Initializing the after-training period with voluntary help
- Discussion regarding the usefulness of the system with the staff and initiating the trial period to see if it benefits the organization financially
- Provision from vendor of maximum assistance and support to the physicians during the trial period to familiarize them with available tools and options
- Linking the system to the existing records for personalization and availability of records
- Implementation of the EHR system step-by-step (on a module basis) for ease of use
- Encouraging physicians and helping staff to join training courses
- Vendor showcasing profitable examples of other system implementations and give proof of credentials on return on investment to ensure that there’s no financial risk involved
It would be wrong to conclude that an EHR software is a one-size-fits-for-all solution. EHR implementers and vendors should not proceed with implementations before going through all of the use-cases, circumstances, and consequences involved.
It is a challenging and interesting task to implement a digital EHR system into existing practices. However, it is recommended to weigh the reliability, structures of the system, and the state of affairs involved with the change. At Avosina Medical Technologies, we are agnostic to the type of EHR you are using to successfully maximize your revenue cycle. In fact, we will happily assist any and all of our client providers to optimize the use of their current EHR system, or provide expert advice on obtaining a new system, so to help them maximize their revenues.