Can Today’s EHR Systems Keep up with Providers’ Needs?

The establishment of the Meaningful Use program created incentives for healthcare providers to quickly implement Electronic Health Records (EHRs) into their IT infrastructure. And that goal has largely been met, as only 6% of hospitals overall do not yet utilize an EHR infrastructure, according to Definitive Healthcare. The below chart shows market share of inpatient EHR systems:

Inpatient EHR Systems Market Share

However, it seems that this heightened rush to secure EHRs has caused concerns amongst providers as they begin to see that the EHR systems cannot keep up with today’s ever-changing technology. Health Data Management notes that present-day healthcare is progressing into a world with high technological demand. With this technological expansion, clinicians are expecting EHRs to provide more than just textual data. Clinicians are demanding IT infrastructures that can provide the ability to view past the text and into diagnostic images, genomic sequencing, and wave forms.

According to Aaron Miri, CIO of Walnut Hill Medical Center in Dallas, most EHRs are founded on the IT infrastructure known as or related to MUMPS, which uses the quick but simple “rows and columns” approach to organize data. However, Miri sees this 1960s methodology as incapable of keeping pace with today’s technology as it expands beyond simple text. Despite this outdated foundation, technology vendors have created database structures that wrap around and build on the MUMPs archaic architecture, causing an increase in glitches and time lags.

The vice president of infrastructure and architecture for McKesson Enterprise Information, Ron Dobes, agrees that health providers’ current expectations stretch beyond EHRs’ current technological capabilities. Dobes recognizes that this outdated architecture threatens healthcare operations by decreasing speed and efficiency, disrupting physician-to-physician communication as well as physician-patient relationship, and making it more difficult to enter into the world of tablets and smart phones. Additionally, some technology vendors’ strategy of building secondary databases onto the main platform seems to only increase the probability of these threats. Due to these threats, some technology vendors have begun to require specific technological infrastructures that, for example, increase the rate of performance. Though this long-term fix seems to provide a solution to the risks associated with secondary databases, this investment can cost up to millions of extra dollars, causing most providers to shy away.

Definitive Healthcare has the most up-to-date, comprehensive and integrated data on hospitals, physicians and other healthcare providers. Definitive tracks dozens of technology modules and their vendors, including applications for business intelligence, clinical systems, coding/transcriptions, medication administration, revenue cycle management, and more.

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