More healthcare providers are ditching the cumbersome paper file for the sleek tablet.
Electronic medical records (EMR) have become the defacto standard for documenting patient care.
On one side, regulatory, compliance and patient safety initiatives hold practitioners to increasingly higher standards of quality. On the other side, contractual agreements between hospitals and anesthesia practices are placing performance-based contingencies on provider compensation. All of this necessitates the providers collecting more data than ever during the course of care, and the goal of EMRs is to make this data capture easy.
There remains, however, a skeptical audience of anesthesia providers who have bonafide concerns about price, functionality, and efficiency of such systems.
Making the Switch to EMR Software
When it comes to paper medical records vs. EMR, paper records are the stalwart in gathering patient information. It’s hard to imagine a doctor’s office without paper clipboards and bulky filing cabinets.
EMR integration at any practice or healthcare facility is indeed a big change. However, it doesn’t have to be disruptive or difficult.
Here are the eight most commonly perceived barriers — whether real or imagined — for adopting EMR software:
EMR software pricing is the main deterrent for many practices.
Integrating EMR software into daily use is no small investment. According to the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, EMR software implementation costs between $15,000-$70,000 per provider.
The main drivers of EMR costs include:
- Software (licensing and integration)
- Technical support
- Ongoing maintenance (including SaaS usage costs)
The Reality: Remember — switching to EMR is an investment with big ROI. The money you save avoiding billing errors adds up quickly. Also, cloud-based SaaS technology has helped drive down EMR costs, giving it a faster ROI — even at facilities in rural areas.
2. Data Migration
While keeping new medical records on EMR software is one thing, what about existing medical records?
Digitizing paper records can be a long, onerous process. And if information is missing or illegible, it simply doesn’t transfer into an electronic format.
The Reality: Digitizing existing medical records will take time, but the immediate access to a patient’s medical history is invaluable. Most records can be scanned as images, providing you with as much information as possible.
3. Data Security
There’s a reason for doctor-patient confidentiality — a person’s health is a private matter.
Many medical professionals and patients share the same concern: EMRs are not secure from those with less-than-good intentions. In addition, what happens during a system crash — are all the anesthesia record software files gone? Or how reliable is your courier service for paper files?
The Reality: There are strict HIPAA and HITECH guidelines for EMR security. Most EMR providers go above and beyond what’s required. In addition, EMR platforms restrict access to only those who need it, and track exactly when they access files. That means you’ll never need to worry about someone viewing the digital files who shouldn’t, and you’ll have an extra layer of accountability that paper files simply do not provide.
4. Resistance to New Technology
New technology can be intimidating. Not everyone rushes into using a new device or software with open arms.
As paper records have been the standard in medicine, some practices are reticent to make such a major change. Why fix something that isn’t broken?
The Reality: EMR technology isn’t exactly new, and it’s proven itself as a way to streamline patient care. More practices are seeing their immediate benefits, such as an increase in speed and efficiency over paper reporting.
5. Integration With Existing Technology
IT specialists at larger health facilities may also be unwilling to adopt new technology out of concern for how it will integrate with existing infrastructure. Not all programs work on every type of device or operating system.
The Reality: Cloud-based EMRs have advanced beyond this outdated concern, where integration is now possible within days at a much lower cost than previously encountered.
As every medical practice is different, so, too, are their needs.
Some EMR software is what it is, meaning there’s no customizing it to meet an anesthesia practice’s specific needs. What’s more, should a practice change a process, the software typically cannot be adapted.
The Reality: There are EMR platforms that can be tailored to your needs. You just need to find the right one for your practice that offers the best combination of high configurability and low maintenance overhead.
7. Learning Curve
Along the same lines as the last point, there’s a perception that adopting new technology will require a steep learning curve — one that’s months long and disruptive. And what happens when an EMR software is updated — does the learning process start over?
The Reality: Yes, learning new software does take time. But it doesn’t take the better part of a year to master. In most cases, training takes a few days to a few weeks.
8. Ongoing Technical Support
A common fear many anesthesiologists have about switching to electronic health records is that once an EMR software provider is done getting their product up and running, they’re on their own. If you really need technical support, it comes at a premium.
The Reality: You don’t have to be alone. When vetting an EMR provider, investigate their ongoing technical support.
- Is support in-house or overseas?
- How responsive are they?
- Will you immediately be in touch with a real person, or will you be navigating machines and recordings?
Finding the Right EMR Provider
While all of these concerns have merit, they can be addressed to make EMR adoption headache-free and seamless.
The most simple solution: Work with the right EMR software provider.
The right EMR software provider will take time to understand your practice and concerns. It’ll have a proven track record of satisfied customers and comply with EMR data security regulations. It’ll also work with you every step of the way — even long after installation and training.
Graphium’s EMR software addresses these concerns — from affordability and data security to ease of learning and ongoing technical support.