The EMR Deadline – 2014
Real-Time EMR Access
EMRs are part of the main way of doing things for physicians and patients in medical facilities around the nation. This has become common throughout most of the healthcare industry. No longer are healthcare professionals running through Rolodexes, creating stacks of paper or looking for that long lost file. Those dusty files have been replaced by the world of technology – where information is extracted as quickly as it is produced. Databases are willing to serve us with information at the touch of a keystroke, and extreme care is taken to make sure records are correct. Why? Because EMRs have limitless potential.
It is a necessity to have access to a patient’s real-time electronic medical records (EMR), not a luxury. The immediacy associated with having EMRs at the finger tips can mean the difference between life and death for the patient. When moving to Electronic Health Records (EHR), it is imperative for healthcare organizations to ensure patient data is safe on the network. Large healthcare organizations and small independent practices alike need to have a continuity plan, it is extremely important for both the patient and legal compliance.
Government regulations, such as Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act's (HIPAA) EHR requirements, make it a necessity that healthcare organizations record and keep patient information on their networks. Large fines can result from failing to abide. There are several small practices that do not have the capacity to have a full time IT staff making it difficult to have a well-kept network. However some healthcare organizations refuse to comply with regulations putting their patient’s information at risk of a security breach.
Hospitals and healthcare organizations are realizing that EHRs are getting them closer to being efficient, digitally, streamlined machines, causing them to race to the finish line implementing EMR.
The much anticipated deadline for EMR implementation has CTOs around the nation working day and night. EMR deployment has come in chunks for the last decade and a fair amount of work has been created for CTOs as they try to compile the first generation of EMRs. Some are just beginning to implement EMRs and only now realizing how efficient and productive it is for the doctor / patient relationship. No matter how far along any one organization is in implementing EMRs there is still a lot to learn and even more possibilities for the future of how EMRs can be used.
Larger hospitals can afford to hire limitless IT professionals to implement EMR for the coming deadline, however smaller hospitals may have a more difficult time keeping up. This is a concern that doesn’t seem to be considered. It is possible that the government has over committed to EMR within healthcare reform.
Every hospital has different systems within and different ways of doing things. However, for CTOs the back-end work will essentially be the same while they create a system of EMRs that are securely implemented, optimized, and useful. They must tie together all of the different applications that have been implemented over the last decade. Meanwhile they must look forward to computerized provider order entry (CPOE) as the connecting factor as they get close to a more complete electronic care system. First though, security must be priority number one.
Data management has become the “star” of the EMR show which makes security the capital concern. A time consuming project – the creators of these software programs have been rapidly progressing the security by testing updating and monitoring their security systems to prevent issues. The HITECH Act (Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health) will be easier to enforce and attention will have to paid as to where information is exchanged.
A cause for concern is people’s smartphones, personal laptops and emails. There is secure e-mail that can be used, but unfortunately if an e-mail is sent using a mobile device or from one institution to another the opportunity for it to leak out somewhere is possible.
As important as security is to EMR, it is not the only problem that IT will face. Three of the bigger issues that healthcare will face using EMRs is performance, cross-use, and efficiency. As for performance and efficiency if something is “clicked” the requested information should appear within 5 seconds, 10 seconds is acceptable, and after 15 seconds it’s likely not going to work and becomes a slow irritating system at that point. For cross-use, there are systems such as HIE (Health Information Exchange) which can improve the data transfer between different systems and healthcare organizations. The idea in the future is to integrate the different systems so that one system isn’t running behind another system making EMR inefficient.