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Little wonder the healthcare industry is completely data-driven. Vast amounts of data are generated, analyzed, and transmitted daily. 

For decades, medical professionals stored data in physical files. Today, this process had to be completely flipped.

Despite in 2019, the request to modernize internal record systems and create a centralized base by the US government was felt by healthcare organizations as a tricky and painful move, today, more and more healthcare providers rely on electronic health records to improve the quality of primary care and patient outcomes.

During the last few years, the adoption of EHR systems has significantly increased and is predicted to reach $47.6 billion by 2030.

Despite the growing adoption of EHRs, a lot of practices remain skeptical about the benefits of electronic health records, especially, considering the cost for value.

So, did the 2009 shift result in better healthcare quality? In today’s blog, we’ll discuss electronic health records’ pros and cons and if it’s worth making a move.

What is Electronic Health Records System?

An electronic health record (EHR) is a real-time digital version of an individual’s health-related information. EHR modern systems go beyond traditional clinical data kept in the provider’s office. It may include the patient’s medical history, laboratory data, radiology reports, allergies, medications, treatment plans, etc.

Unlike paper charts, EHRs make information available immediately and securely to authorized users. When time is of the essence and patients require immediate actions, healthcare providers can have a holistic view of their health journeys, and make informed medical decisions right away.

EHR features and requirements

Despite the broad adoption of the technology, the benefits and drawbacks of electronic healthcare systems remain a popular and disputable topic.

So, let’s cut right to the chase and discuss the pros and cons of electronic health records.

Advantages of EHR                 

Advantages of EHR

# Increased Efficiency

The implementation of EHR systems allowed medical practices and clinicians to achieve many operational gains, including:

  • By storing patient records in a unified computerized system, EHRs streamline workflows and improve accessibility. 
  • Various categories of electronic health record systems enable physicians to manage crucial information during emergencies, retrieve individual patient checkup details, and continuously monitor vital signs like blood pressure and blood sugar levels. 
  • Practices can transfer patient data between departments in a matter of seconds. When transporting a patient from one surgical procedure to another, even saving several minutes becomes crucial.
  • By freeing up time, previously taken by paperwork, physicians can dedicate more time to communication with their patients as well as increase the number of patients they have per day.

# Improved Data Security

The healthcare industry is a frequent target for various kinds of cyberattacks as it’s highly dependent on access to medical records. However, the widely spread misconception that old-fashioned paper records are more secure than digital ones is not true. EHR systems offer much better control over data security standards and here are four reasons why:

  • EHR systems allow to precisely control who has access to patient healthcare data as they allow only authorized users.
  • The records are protected with encryption methods to comply with HIPAA and other privacy regulations.
  • EHRs enable transparent and efficient audit trails.
  • Electronic health records are regularly and automatically backed up offsite and allow data recovery options.
how EHR improve security

# Better Quality of Care

Aside from making practitioner’s lives easier, improved patient care is another of the advantages of electronic health records. 

EHRs make critical data available for every doctor in the patient’s network, this way, streamlining the decision-making process. 

With all information readily accessible and consistently updated, doctors can implement preventive measures when needed. Should a patient require a vaccine update or an additional cancer screening, the doctor can easily identify these needs in their electronic records and immediately inform the patient about the necessary examination. It goes without saying that this capability can be lifesaving in numerous instances.

Through electronic health records, orders for laboratory tests or medications can be transmitted to the relevant institution in a matter of a few seconds. Patients no longer need to endure waiting in lines or for orders to be manually processed, as soon as their visit to the doctor's office concludes, the laboratory or pharmacy receives an electronic order from the doctor.

Furthermore, this process eliminates the risk of medical errors due to illegible handwriting.

Here are more advantages of electronic health records for quality of patient care:

  • Patients can interact with doctors via a secure online portal.
  • They have reliable point-of-care information and reminders about critical healthcare interventions.
  • All e-prescriptions are delivered to the pharmacy electronically.
  • Patients don’t need to fill in the same forms at every point-of-care.
  • They have easy access to their own health data 24/7.

# Reduced Healthcare Administration Costs

The cost of implementing EHR systems is frequently a deterrent factor, especially for small practices. Despite the upfront cost of EHR execution is considered to be one of the biggest disadvantages of electronic health records, they turn out to produce significant cost savings over time.

According to the research in the American Journal of Managed Care, medical organizations that use robust EHR systems managed to decrease the treatment cost per patient by 9.6% compared to those without such systems.

It’s easy to understand how it works by looking at the following cost-saving advantages of electronic health records:

  • It’s much easier, faster, and more secure to find records via digital search tools.
  • Central hubs for health information eliminate duplications in results or records, facilitating coordination between medical providers. 
  • EHRs reduce medical and medication errors that result in large unnecessary healthcare costs.
  • Integrated billing information reduces staffing costs and the possibility of errors.
  • Patients can find answers to the majority of their questions in patient portals without the need for in-person appointments.

# Medicare & Medicaid Compensation

Healthcare organizations understand the complexities of reimbursement. While some independent clinicians opt out of accepting insurance due to its complexity, others, particularly those proficient in technology, realize they can increase healthcare compensation by delivering superior quality care at lower costs compared to competitors.

Furthermore, hospitals have the opportunity to optimize revenue from behavioral health services by integrating them with physical healthcare. By leveraging EHR systems, providers can effortlessly capture, analyze, and generate reports illustrating favorable patient outcomes. 

Both private and government insurance providers are eager to collaborate with practices demonstrating positive results.

Disadvantages of EHR

In our overview of EHR pros and cons we have already discussed the advantages of these solutions, however, there are some downsides associated with electronic health record systems that business owners should be aware of before starting development.

Disadvantages of EHR

# Implementation Cost

The cost of implementing electronic health records is considered to be one of the biggest disadvantages of EHR systems. It usually includes upfront expenses such as hardware, installation, IT team, training, etc.

Usually, the EHR implementation costs are covered within two or three years of usage. To reduce the expenses, we recommend choosing only necessary features and integrations

# Storage Space

Electronic health records are heavy resources that consume significant server space. Without adequate hosting capacity, physicians may find themselves spending considerable time navigating patient information. Integrating with the cloud could offer a viable solution to reduce delay times and maintain productivity.

# Increased Risk of Privacy or Cybersecurity Issues

As with any other digital solution, EHR systems are not immune to hacker attacks and there is always a chance that such sensitive data as health records might be used in a harmful way, which might have financial, legal, and reputational consequences. 

For businesses, it means that EHR systems have to be implemented in parallel with a thorough analysis of existing data security and retention policies to identify potential weak points and address them appropriately.

# Medical Personnel Training

Learning to navigate EHR platforms may pose a challenge for certain physicians and patients alike, and it will certainly require some time to master. Healthcare institutions implementing EHR systems must carefully evaluate the functionality and flexibility of their software. The more intuitive the interface and navigation, the smoother the operation of the portal will be. They should also pay special attention to staff training to ensure proficient use of the system and maximize its benefits for patient care, operational efficiency and safety.

The Positive Impact of EHR Software on Providers, Staff, and Patient Care

Summing up EHR pros and cons, advantages definitely prevail. All the parties in the healthcare process admit to having positive experiences and numerous efficiency gains as a result of electronic health records implementation.

EHR functionality

Benefits to the Provider:

  • EHR systems securely exchange information with all the specialists who are involved in patient care.
  • They promote comprehensive and transparent documentation, along with efficient coding and billing processes.
  • Utilizing certified EHR technology allows a healthcare facility to capitalize on financial incentives like federal stimulus funding and supplementary medicare payments.
  • They reduce administrative costs by automating chart management, transcription, report generation, scheduling, and much more.
  • The data housed within the EHR remains accessible even in the event of equipment loss caused by natural disasters or catastrophic events.

Benefits to the Staff:

  • EHRs eliminate dull and time-consuming paperwork which is one of the reasons for healthcare specialists’ burnout.
  • All the patient data, including lab results, patient histories, reports, etc. is gathered in one place which improves decision-making and helps to detect diagnosis errors.
  • Digital search tools minimize the time needed to locate records and data.
  • EHRs facilitate better patient-doctor interaction and communication via secure messaging systems.
  • Centralized repositories for health information eliminate redundancies in results or records.

Benefits to the Patients:

  • Provide patients with easy access to their own health data through patient portals to empower decision-making.
  • Patients can set reminders about upcoming visits and alerts to check their laboratory results, for example.
  • EHRs can provide educational materials and recommendations to improve patient’s quality of life and increase patient engagement in the treatment process.
  • Patient portal support gives patients answers to the most popular questions which helps to reduce the need for in-person appointments.

Final Thoughts: Assessing the Pros and Cons of EHRs

The process of designing a high-functioning and well-run EHR system is winding but for sure pays off. We hope that our comprehensive review of electronic health records advantages and disadvantages will help you better understand pros and cons and EHRs.

If designed well, the EHR system streamlines clinical operations, helps physicians deliver better care, and makes the patient experience much more pleasant and optimized. 

The best way to profit from all the benefits of electronic health records is to partner with a reliable software vendor that understands all the peculiarities of this kind of software planning, design, and implementation.

At inVerita, we have a lot of experience in building custom EHRs for healthcare providers of a different scale. Book a consultation with us today and get a custom plan that meets your requirements and objectives.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do EHRs improve patient care and healthcare delivery?

First of all, EHRs provide comprehensive and up-to-date patient information, including medical history, treatment plans, allergies, lab results, etc. which improves decision-making and enhances personalized care. 

Secondly, EHRs allow medical staff to seamlessly access and share patient data, leading to better collaboration and coordination of care across all healthcare departments. EHRs also support preventive care and chronic disease management through reminders and alerts for screenings, vaccinations, and follow-up appointments, helping to identify and address health issues earlier. 

Patients can access their own health information through secure portals and communicate with their providers, schedule appointments, and actively participate in their healthcare journey.

What are the main challenges in implementing EHR systems?

The potential pitfalls of implementing EHR systems include initial costs and financial barriers associated with buying or developing and setting up the technology, interoperability issues between different healthcare systems, which hinder the seamless exchange of patient data between medical personnel, resistance to change from healthcare professionals accustomed to traditional paper-based methods, and insufficient training. 

Overcoming these challenges requires careful planning, investment in infrastructure and training, a collaboration between stakeholders, and ongoing efforts to address technical and organizational barriers to successful implementation.

How do EHRs impact healthcare costs for providers and patients?

EHRs have the potential to reduce healthcare expenses in the long run while improving the overall quality of care and health outcomes. Despite the implementation of EHRs requires a lot of upfront expenses such as hardware, installation, IT team, and training, these costs are usually covered within two or three years of usage.

Electronic health records can also minimize patient costs by reducing the need for duplicate tests and procedures, avoiding unnecessary medical expenses, and promoting preventive care and chronic disease management.

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