Access and Feeds

Health Care: EHR Adoption Increases, but Barriers Still Exist

By Dick Weisinger

Electronic Health Records (EHRs) is electronic information that records the state and history of a patient’s health.  The goal for EHRs is to enable the easy and secure exchange and sharing of digital health data between health care providers and institutions.  EHRs can include any of the following types of data: demographics, medical history, medication and allergies, immunization status, laboratory test results, radiology images, vital signs, personal stats like age and weight, and billing information.

EHRs have the potential to speed the delivery of medicine to patients, reduce costs, and minimize errors.  A recent report from the Optum Institute for Sustainable Health shows that that while adoption of EHRs is steadily increasing, patients remain wary of the security of the technology.  A Ponemon study on the security of EHRs found that the number of data breaches in 2011 surged by 32 percent.  The Ponemon study also found that the cost of resolving each data breach is typically in the millions of dollars.

But beyond security, other barriers that potentially block the success of EHR technology include:

  • EHR implementation costs are not insignificant. Government incentives have reduced this as a barrier, but costs still play into the equation.
  • EHRs often do not capture complete information.  Hospitals say that key care information is available in the EHR only about half the time.
  • EHRs are typically implemented on proprietary systems and often the interoperability and exchange of data between multiple systems is difficult.
  • Management of EHRs brings along with it more responsibility for providers and institutions and with responsibility comes associated financial risks.
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