Why Would You Wait To Update Your EHR System?
Perhaps you don’t want to take the time to do so. Or you’re concerned about the cost of upgrading or buying a new solution. But in most cases, these reasons simply aren’t enough to justify the problems you could potentially experience from not updating your EHR system.
7 Main Problems Associated With Using Outdated EHR Solutions
1. Security Issues
Data breaches are a real risk. Protected Health Information (PHI) is a big seller on the Dark Web. Hackers are targeting healthcare practices and organizations to steal this data because it’s so valuable. An outdated EHR is an invitation for data theft.
According to CSO Online: “The Identity Theft Resource Center reported that there were 355 breaches in 2016 affecting 15 million records. 2016 was a record year for US Healthcare breaches – affecting hospitals, dental clinics, and senior care facilities, among others with the top 10 breaches netting criminals in excess of 13 million records, and the Dark Web literally flooded with ‘fullz’ (full packages of personally identifiable information), as well as patient insurance information.”
As a healthcare practice using EHRs, you’re required to make good-faith attempts to stop security breaches from occurring. Updating your EHR software regularly is one of the best ways to do this.
2. Interoperability Problems
While EHRs have advanced substantially, there is still work to do. If you’re holding onto an old EHR system you’ll soon run into interoperability issues if you haven’t already. Newer versions of EHR solutions have worked out some of the bugs. But because healthcare IT solutions are so complex, software vendors are constantly working on this. And with so many different types of healthcare software solutions being used, developers are working to make sure their new EHR systems will communicate with these solutions. Eventually, your old EHR won’t function as it should with newer medical IT on the market. And interoperability problems lead to communication problems. If your EHR no longer interacts efficiently with other systems (such as billing, CMS, E-prescribing, communications with specialists or patients) it’s time to look for a new system.
3. Adaptability Concerns
Medical software can now be used with tablets, smartphones and even with voice-activated computing devices. This adaptability gives healthcare providers an easy and efficient option that helps to increase productivity. An outdated EMR solution won’t be able to interface with these devices as it should, could create bottlenecks, and reduce staff efficiency and productivity. Data entry on outdated EHRs is slow and cumbersome. This is frustrating for administrative staff, physicians, nurses, and patients. Plus, if the documentation process is too time-consuming, your physicians and allied health professionals will be taking time away from patient care.
4. Patient Outcomes Negatively Affected
Upgrading your EHRs will directly affect the level of patient care you provide. Improvements in software allow healthcare practitioners to more effectively monitor their patients’ progress and symptoms. Efficient tracking of patients’ progress translates into better patient care, and, in the long run, improved outcomes.
When you don’t track symptoms as you should, you put your patients at risk. Improper tracking leads to inaccuracies in EHR data. And inaccuracies in EHR problem list–based comorbidity data can lead to incorrect determinations of case mix, according to a study that took place at two southern California Veterans Affairs (VA) medical centers. Of course, the information going into your EHRs must be correct. If the EHR solution is difficult to use, or outdated, you can expect your office staff to make more errors, or not comply by entering the data as they should. (And Medicare-Eligible practices are required by law to use EHRs.)
5. Incorrect Coding
Older EHRs that lack built-in controls to monitor and alert for inefficient and incorrect coding processes can cost your practice financially, and can negatively affect patient care. Newer EHR systems can track for medication interactions, recommended tests and screenings, and optimize patient care. These give your staff reminders to provide efficient and accurate care that meets the highest standards. If your EHR system doesn’t provide this capability, it’s time for an update.
6. Inefficient Mobile Communication and Access
If your EHR system doesn’t offer efficient mobile access, it’s time to reassess. Mobile is the world we live in – both for providers and patients. Your system must be set up to provide mobile communication access for patients. They use their smartphones and tablets to access the information they need, such as appointment dates. They use it to track medications and readings for chronic health conditions. Today, patients want to be able to access their medical information, lab results and more on a 24/7 basis. Remember, your patients are busy, too. If your EHR doesn’t have a patient portal, as we said, it’s time for a new one or an upgrade.
7. Money Wasted
Have you checked recently to see if you’re getting the best deal on your EHR solution? You may be paying for hidden fees, updates, or maintenance fees that you wouldn’t otherwise have to fund with newer EHR software. And an outdated EHR can take up management time that you can’t afford. Inefficient systems can drain hours from your staff’s time looking for files they can’t easily locate. And with less support from vendors who have taken off to sell other products, you’ll experience more problems that can slow you down. As you know, time is money.
There are other risks of using an outdated or inefficient EHR that can mean real trouble for your healthcare practice. Remember, when you do update, ensure your data is transferred accurately and completely by using a quality archival solution.
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