As the proliferation of digital health tools continues and patient data is increasingly stored in electronic medical records, EHR integration becomes vital to clinical workflows and the quality of health services healthcare providers can deliver.
While there are challenges associated with EHR integration, health systems that can manage successful EHR integration can leverage data in a manner that enables them to optimize their clinical workflow, manage patient flow, and deliver robust healthcare services.
This post will explain the value and importance of EHR integration. In addition, we will also cover some of the common challenges associated with EHR integration, so your health system can be prepared for the potential technical challenges it will face.
What Is an Electronic Health Record (EHR)?
Electronic health records are digital versions of the paper charts healthcare providers use to track a patient’s medical history and care. Like all paper records, electronic health records are digitized to improve the reliability and data privacy of personal health information.
Medical professionals utilize EHR systems for more than the sake of convenience. An EHR system can be effectively used by healthcare professionals to power data analytics and improve the quality of medical care, especially across providers, which is common for many patients.
What Is EHR Integration?
Electronic health record integration ensures that patient information can be accessed across a practice’s medical software solutions. Most modern healthcare practices utilize a variety of different software tools.
As a result, EHR implementation cannot be fully effective unless it is integrated with all of a practice’s software solutions. EHR integration ensures that all of a medical practice’s software tools and records work together and share information to improve care and clinical workflows.
The Benefits of EHR Integration
EHR integration is beneficial for healthcare organizations and systems for several reasons. Functional integration can transform your existing system and suite of tools in the following ways:
- Improved data security
- Improved patient outcomes
- Improved clinical workflows
- Greater patient engagement
Improved Data Security
When it comes to protected health information, security is something every health provider should take very seriously. EHR integration improves the security of patient records and data.
A HIPAA-compliant EHR system will safeguard files from cyberattacks and make your practice immune to physical file theft, natural disaster, or lost files. Paper-based EHR systems have a single point of failure.
Digital EHRs exist safely in the cloud. If there is a fire, flood, or other natural calamity at your physical location, all patient files and records will be safe in the cloud.
Furthermore, cloud access enables doctors and providers to check records or test results anywhere they have Internet access. This can help them respond in real-time to critical health data and communicate more efficiently with patients.
Improved Patient Outcomes
Electronic health record integration improves health outcomes for patients. When a practice utilizes EHRs, a patient’s medical history and treatment regimen are instantly available to a provider.
More accurate records ensure that doctors, nurses, and dentists are able to comprehensively understand a patient’s health and choose effective treatment plans. EHRs also enable providers to share information between practices.
For example, a person’s primary care physician can share information with specialists and other care providers. Ultimately, when health information is accessible to providers, they can provide better care to their patients.
EHR integration leads to improved health outcomes for patients of all ages.
Improved Clinical Workflows
Electronic health record integration helps clinics and health systems improve workflows and provide a better patient experience. With electronic health record integration, practices can improve internal communication and create a streamlined patient experience.
In addition, EHR integration enables staff to perform administrative tasks more efficiently, focusing more on patient care and less on paperwork. Providers can also focus on growing their practice by reducing and simplifying administrative tasks with EHR integration.
The healthcare industry requires a lot of paperwork and administrative work. Integration of electronic health records can greatly reduce the time spent on administrative tasks.
Greater Patient Engagement
Electronic health record integration drives patient engagement. EHR integration gives patients greater control over their health data and enables them to be more invested in their health and treatment.
When patients are more engaged with their health care, they tend to feel less anxious and don’t have to wait to see a doctor to access their records. Engaged patients also lead to improved health outcomes since they are taking a more active role in their health care.
Electronic health record integration is helpful for practices that want to drive patient engagement and empower patients to seize control of their health.
EHR Integration Challenges
Electronic health record integration is very beneficial for medical providers. However, despite the value of EHR integration, there are some common challenges that arise. The challenges of EHR integration include the following:
- Data migration
The most significant challenge of EHR integration is compatibility with all existing systems and software solutions. There is a proliferation of medical tools and software that providers utilize on a daily basis.
The challenge for providers becomes finding an EHR solution that is compatible with all of their current tools and software. Compatibility issues can lead to internal resistance from staff and drive up the costs of integration.
Migrating data to the EHR system can cause significant issues for practices. Data migration is not as simple as flipping a switch. Migration can take weeks to fully complete, which can lead to some access restrictions and, in the worst cases, lost data.
Lost data can lead to significant reputational damage with existing patients if their data is lost and a provider forgets the specifics of their treatment or health records. Planning for data migration and implementing strong data practices is vital to mitigate the challenges of migration.
While EHR integration costs are fixed, the overall price might discourage practices from pursuing it. However, digital transformation is vital for healthcare organizations.
The upfront costs of EHR solutions and integration might seem like a significant barrier, but this investment in your practice will benefit your business and your patients.
EHR integration is vital for medical providers. If you want to learn more about EHR or customizable integrations, contact an experienced MedTech app developer like Koombea. A skilled partner can simplify EHR integration and help your organization make the best technical choices for future success.