Problems Facing Implementation of EHR Systems
English, Literature and Philology
Evidence-Based Research Capstone (HIM Problem(s) & Recommendation(s)
Introduction of Electronic Health Records (EHR) into the medical sector has revolutionized the industry by smoothening the process of data entry and retrieval. However, health providers are facing challenges using these systems. Despite the benefits these systems bring to the table, patients, physicians, and the general public are realizing that these systems are imperfect. Issues like the security of patient information have risen, where the people are questioning the safety of their records in digital format, especially with emerging cybersecurity threats and crimes.
Health providers are also protesting the effectiveness of EHR systems, citing challenges like poor program interface, the high cost of acquisition and installation, and cumbersome data entry processes, as issues that need some attention and fixing. This paper looks into the challenges facing EHR systems and the potential solutions to these challenges.
One of the main problems raising outspoken protests against the use of EHRs is the security of the information. According to Adler-Milstein et al., the purpose of laws on doctor-patient confidentiality is centered on the premise that patient details ought to be protected from access by a third party(2014). Questions have risen about the security of patient data when it in digital format. With the rise in the number of cyber hacks experienced by companies in different industries, it is reasonable to expect that a similar occurrence could happen to a hospital’s electronic records. The incidence of such an event could be devastating to a patient’s right to privacy. Not to mention the possibility of extortion from hackers.
Research conducted by Nguyen, L., Bellucci, and Nguyen, L. T. shows that poor user interface is probably the principal cause of rejection of EHR systems by health providers. According to their work on Electronic Health Implementation, they reveal that up to thirty-two percent of nurses are dissatisfied with their EHR technology. According to the majority of these nurses, the main reason for their discontentment was the troublesome user interface that continuously experienced glitches that got in the way of them doing their jobs correctly (Nguyen, L. et al., 2014).
Improvements in clinical information technology can be expensive. Acquisition and implementation of the programs demand a significant amount of resources to be invested into the endeavor. Small enterprises often find themselves without the money to buy or the time to train its employees on the application of EHR systems. The cost of installing, and upgrading EHR systems is one of the barriers to the full adoption of the technology.
According to Nguyen, L., Bellucci, and Nguyen, L. T., a lack of EHR interoperability is another challenge holding back the full adoption of the system by health providers. According to them, although more recent designs have improved elements of clinical documentation, not enough has been done to improve the interoperability of different electronic health programs.
In the case of medical referrals, where doctors from different hospitals have to exchange patients, a challenge arises when for example, a physician refers a patient to a psychiatrist, and the two health providers use different electronic health programs. Sharing patient information between the two then becomes a drag, and necessitates manual decoding and rekeying of data. Different EHR software vendors need to realize the need for interoperability amongst their technologies in the provision of patient-centered medical care.
According to a survey done by Gale et al., the effectiveness of electronic health systems in health clinics located in rural regions is significantly weaker compared to those in urban areas. In his findings, he states that these clinics have a weak connection to the internet. Unreliable internet connectivity disables specific features of EHRs like sending patient records wirelessly.
Another problem facing EHRs is the rejection of the technology by people. People may have any number of reasons as to why they do not want to advance into the digital recording of patients’ data. Their reasons may range from any of the problems stated above, or it may be due to personal preferences. However, this rejection of the technology poses another obstacle preventing the advancement of EHRs to universal use.
Solutions for problems faced by EHR systems revolve around the improvement of the programs by their developers and education of the public on the benefits of EHRs over traditional paper-based data records. The safety of patient information is a serious issue and requires immediate attention to ensure patients do not lose trust in their health providers. EHR developers can resolve security concerns by coding robust firewalls and anti-virus applications into the systems. EHR developers should also make an effort to improve the user interface to facilitate smooth data entry and retrieval.
The primary challenge that makes it difficult for EHR integration in rural areas is a lack of adequate connectivity. Despite the obstacles that accrue from using EHR systems, rural health providers ought to at least consider the benefits of using the systems, because they outweigh the challenges (Gale et al., 2015). These clinics can do so by installing satellite dishes to enhance internet connectivity and data transmission.
Electronic recording systems have transformed many industries by enhancing the efficiency and speed at which organizations operate. The medical sector has benefited by having a portal where patient information is stored with no physical space needed, and where this information is easy to retrieve and analyze. However, these systems are imperfect and need improvement.
Adler-Milstein, J., DesRoches, C. M., Kralovec, P., Foster, G., Worzala, C., Charles, D., … & Jha, A. K. (2015). Electronic health record adoption in US hospitals: progress continues, but challenges persist. Health affairs, 34(12), 2174-2180.
Furukawa, M. F., King, J., Patel, V., Hsiao, C. J., Adler-Milstein, J., & Jha, A. K. (2014). Despite substantial progress in EHR adoption, health information exchange and patient engagement remain low in office settings. Health Affairs, 33(9), 1672-1679.
Nguyen, L., Bellucci, E., & Nguyen, L. T. (2014). Electronic health records implementation: an evaluation of information system impact and contingency factors. International journal of medical informatics, 83(11), 779-796.
Gibson, R. (2018). Personal Health Records and Health Record Banks. In The CMIO Survival Guide (pp. 89-108). Productivity Press.
Gale, M. S., John, A., Croll, B. A., Zachariah, T., & Hartley PhD, M. H. A. (2015). Adoption and use of electronic health records by rural health clinics: Results of a national survey.