Electronic Health Record (EHR) systems are fundamental and necessary for any successful health system. They achieve orders and accumulate and trend results; they assemble nursing and provider notes that beset the patient story within and across episodes of care; they capture charges and automate the revenue cycle management functions. Most EHRs now even have a patient-facing interface where patients can communicate with their providers, view test results and schedule visits.
Initially conceived and designed as a basic transactional system, EHRs now serve many health system operations well. But, they're very complicated, multi-purpose tools constructed to serve a good range of sorts of health systems and healthcare provider users. Arguably, thereupon complexity, they aren’t as sophisticated or nearly as intuitive as your favorite website or app.
While health systems strive to augment the ease, usability, and intuitiveness, add functionality and transform the way the EHR is employed to deliver better care, there are several factors that are becoming within the way:
• All EHRs and EHR versions have different levels of functionality. While healthcare it's many standards, there are highly variable interpretations and implementations of these standards. If you've got seen one EHR, you've got seen one EHR.
• Many health systems and providers are still battling simply implementing basic functionality due to cost, resources and/or competing priorities.
• With different levels of maturity of functionality and/or adoption, rock bottom common denominator between EHRs and health systems often defaults to a really basic level of functionality – making consistent and advanced integration difficult.
• Healthcare, as an industry, is undergoing significant change leading to mergers, acquisitions, and non-traditional partnerships, all of which can require EHR consolidation and/or implementation efforts. These struggles often take importance over implementing advanced, innovative functionality.
• EHRs are highly proprietary, and it's not necessarily in their financial best interest to facilitate interoperability with other companies.
The bottom line, there's still a quiet little bit of basic blocking and tackling happening in healthcare IT. So, given this reality, what are those health systems put on transformation and innovation to do?