Physicians are expected to document encounters with patients. This ensures there is a record of crucial information for decision-making and dispute. A decade ago, around 90% of physicians updated their patient records by hand. By the end of 2014, 83% of physicians had adopted EHR systems. The combination of government incentives, advances in technology, and improved outcomes and operations fueled this growth.
When healthcare providers have access to complete and accurate information, patients receive better care and have better outcomes. Electronic Health Records (EHRs) improve providers’ ability to diagnose disease and reduce medical errors. EHRs further help providers meet patient demands, provide decision support, improve communication, and aid in regulatory reporting.
A national survey of providers highlights their perspective on the benefits of having EHR in their practice:
- 94% of providers report that their EHR makes records readily available at point of care.
- 88% of providers report that their EHR produces clinical benefits for the practice.
- 75% of providers report that their EHR allows them to deliver better patient care.
As the adoption of EHR grew over the last 10 years, so too did the need to change EHR systems within health systems, hospitals, and private medical practices. Growth in M&A activity fueled many healthcare organizations to combine data through EHR data conversion. Provider dissatisfaction has played a key role in encouraging change in EHR systems, also increasing EHR data conversion activity.
A study completed by Health Affairs showed, by and large, providers recognize the important advances that EHRs enable. Fewer than 20% of all providers said they would return to paper records. That being said, providers also noted negative effects of current EHRs on their professional lives and on patient care. While excited about the possibilities provided by EHRs, providers have ultimately found poor usability that does not match clinical workflows, time-consuming data entry, interference with patient interaction, and too many electronic messages and alerts.
According to a 2014 survey of physicians conducted by AmericanEHR Partners:
- 54% indicated their EHR system increased their total operating costs.
- 55% said is was difficult or very difficult to use their EHR to improve efficiency.
- 72% said it was difficult or very difficult to use their EHR to decrease workload.
- 43% said they had not yet overcome productivity challenges associated with their EHR implementation.
These concerns about EHR usability are in alignment with others, including the American Medical Informatics Association, researchers, and practicing physicians. Given the rate at which many healthcare organizations have adopted EHRs, these organizations find themselves unable to wait for the long-run fixes. Healthcare organizations are now looking to change EHR providers in order to fix many of the providers’ concerns.
As healthcare organizations begin the process of changing EHR providers, there is an increased need for solutions to provide access to and maintain the integrity of data stored in the legacy systems. When this need arises, healthcare organizations have the choice to archive the legacy data, run multiple systems simultaneously, or complete an EHR data conversion.
Given the complexity of the data and variety of potential solutions, one might suppose that handling legacy data would be a complex affair. In many ways, that is true. However, it doesn’t have to be. To learn more about the state of EHRs and potential solutions for maintaining access and integrity of legacy data, download Evolution of EHR: Changing Systems Without Affecting Care.