Navigating the Benefits and Challenges of EHR Integration in Modern Healthcare
EHR or electronic health records are digital formats of patients’ medical charts. They contain important medical data like demographic information, health plans, immunizations, previous treatments, prescription history, past diagnoses, and so forth. Medical software integration between EHR platforms and other health systems allows this data to flow freely within an organization for all clinicians to access securely.
An EHR integration is carried out using specialized software called Application Programming Interface (API). It allows medical software from different manufacturers to exchange data seamlessly and process the same.
Let’s look at some of the benefits and challenges of EMR/EHR integration.
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Benefits of EHR Integration
1. Greater Staff Productivity
Large hospitals handle a larger volume of patients on a daily basis. As a result, they would have to process a lot of patient information and handle proportionately higher volumes of front-office activities. Things like overseeing appointments, managing physician schedules, handling insurance verification, discharge, and others is highly cumbersome.
EHR integration allows all the staff to carry out their day-to-day activities faster and without the hassle of physical paperwork. The front-office staff can verify patients’ health plans with some clicks, the billing staff can fetch patient data and code faster, and doctors can view test results on their screens all because patients’ health data is available for all authorized personnel within the organization. This boosts the speed and productivity of all staff that uses patient data.
2. Improved Patient Engagement
Patient engagement is known to improve clinical outcomes and the overall patient experience. Custom EHR integration solutions with web portals (patient portals) provide secure, 24/7 view to personal health information. People can log in using their credentials and view details like insurance coverage, test results, appointments, prescriptions, etc.
EHR patient portals allow people to be more involved in their own care process and even interact with their providers through secure text-based chatbots. Such doctor-patient engagement encourages people to adhere to their doctor’s instructions and manage their own health better.
3. Fast Data Processing and Easy Communication
The best and most obvious advantage of using an EHR platform is fast handling of data. It replaces physical paperwork, so the staff can store and retrieve any information they need on a screen with some clicks. Additionally, they can share this data with providers with ease without needing to deal with cumbersome files or documentation.
4. Better Patient Treatment
Medical data is vital for effective patient treatment. A person’s clinical history tells doctors what they need to know to treat the person. EHR integration software makes it easy for physicians to obtain patients’ medical data and make informed treatment decisions. This is especially important in case of emergencies like car crashes, gunshot wounds, or heart attacks. In such times, knowing the victim’s medical history enables doctors to avoid treatments that might have adverse side effects.
An Electronic health record integration makes patient data available with little to no gaps in it, easing the process of medical decision-making, which leads to better outcomes for patients.
5. Better Accessibility For Providers
Patients sometimes need to travel to another city or even another state for getting the required treatment. During such cases, EHR integration software that incorporates a health records platform to medical systems makes it easy to share patient data from one organization to another. So, when patients need to go elsewhere for treatment, the doctors there can obtain the patient’s records with ease.
6. Simplified E-Prescribing
EHR integration solutions enable doctors to look at patients’ test results and directly prescribe medication electronically. This prevents the need for handling paper-based prescriptions and illegible handwritings of doctors. Patients can even request for re-fills on the patient portal, which doctors can approve, and head over to the pharmacy where the re-fill is reflected.
7. Effective For Telehealth Programs
Telehealth involves the use of telecommunications and digital technology to disseminate medical services. Clinics or hospitals offering telehealth programs can serve their patients much better if they can access patient data during the remote virtual consultation. Telehealth EHR integrationcan merge health records with telehealth platforms for improving remote patient care.
Challenges with EHR Integration
1. Cost of Implementation
The cost of implementation might deter some organizations from leveraging EHR integration software for incorporating it into their systems. This is especially true for smaller clinics in distant towns that don’t see as many patients as those in urban locations.
2. Data Privacy
Healthcare integration services often lead to concerns over data privacy and regulations. Any type of data-leak or losses after integration could cost the providers heavily in the form of penalties and even jail time. So, it is natural for many smaller clinics and practices to be sceptical of EHR integration solutions.
3. Usability Issues
The new integrated platform could make it difficult for staff to get acquainted to it. The newly integrated EHR might make the interface of the existing system a little more complicated, posing hurdles for efficient use.
4. Staff Training and Acceptance
The company carrying out the integration needs to train the staff at the organization. This needs to be thorough since the staff needs to be able to use it without hassle to serve patients. Staff acceptance could take time, which would mean that the clinic would have to work more.
The newly integrated EHR might not be compatible with existing systems, which could create many problems for everyday operations. So, it is vital to conduct a thorough technical assessment before moving ahead with the integration.
6. Technical Support
The company carrying out the integration needs to be available to offer technical support in case of glitches and downtimes. This is vital for maintaining business continuity.
7. Data Migration
Digitizing paper-based data or migrating it from older systems to the new integrated system could sometimes pose challenges. This can be due to compatibility issues of the data formats supported by the software platforms.
EHR integration solutions have become an integral part of health tech as the industry needs to incorporate the latest innovations. As more innovations are around the corner, integration will be a must-have for medical organizations of all sizes.