In the constantly evolving healthcare landscape, startups face an imperative need to leverage technology to deliver superior patient care, ensure regulatory compliance, and stay competitive. A pivotal technology that holds promise in this regard is Electronic Health Record (EHR) software. As a digital replacement for paper records, EHR software transforms the way patient data is captured, accessed, and utilized, thereby streamlining workflows and enhancing patient outcomes. However, the journey towards developing an efficient EHR software is riddled with its own set of challenges and considerations.
In this article, we’ll explore the benefits of EHR software development, delve into its key features, benefits and discuss the challenges startups might face in this journey, arming you with the necessary knowledge to navigate this complex terrain.
EHR System Overview
The EHR system is an essential tool in today’s world. According to the Grand View Research study, the EHR market was estimated at $28.1 billion in 2022, 61% of which are private and public hospitals and laboratories. Moreover, stable demand for IT will continue in the near future: forecasts show that the segment’s value will reach $35.1 billion in 2028.
Throughout the evolution of healthcare solutions, although there have been plenty of new and improved features, the core functions and principles have remained unchanged.
The main issue is that the majority of software solutions currently on the market don’t function as users expect them to. This has left open a wide area for improvement.
Statistically speaking, roughly 42% of doctors and medical personnel report being satisfied with their current EHR software.
The global pandemic that we find ourselves in combined with the intensified digitalization of the healthcare industry, has left us with a growing need for refined, integrated, secure, and high-performing EHR and billing software.
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What is an EHR System?
EHR system is a real-time, patient-centered record that aims to make information available instantly and securely to authorized users. It contains the medical and treatment histories of patients, allowing healthcare providers to track data over time and monitor and improve the overall quality of care within their practice.
EHRs can include information such as:
- Medical history
- Immunization dates
- Radiology images
- Test results
- Demographic and billing data
An EHR system can also share information with other healthcare providers and organizations and can include all information from emergency facilities, laboratories, specialists, medical imaging facilities, pharmacies, and workplace clinics – so they are involved in a patient’s care digitally.
Types of EHR Software Solutions
EHR systems can be classified into several categories based on their features, deployment methods, and the scope of their services. Understanding these categories can help healthcare startups select the most suitable EHR software for their unique needs.
- On-Premise EHR systems: On-premise EHR systems are installed on the healthcare provider’s own servers and managed by the provider’s IT staff. This type of EHR offers high customization potential, direct control over the data, and the ability of integration with other systems already in use. However, they often require a significant upfront investment in hardware, software, and technical expertise, making them less feasible for smaller healthcare providers.
- Cloud-based EHR systems: Cloud-based or SaaS (Software as a Service) EHR systems are hosted on the vendor’s servers and accessed via the internet. These systems often require less upfront investment as they typically operate on a subscription-based pricing model and do not need the purchase of hardware or software. They also offer scalability and accessibility from any location with internet access. However, they may offer less customization and may require a robust internet connection for optimal functionality.
- Integrated EHR Systems: Integrated EHR systems come bundled with other practice management tools, such as billing, scheduling, or patient portal software. This can streamline various administrative tasks and improve data consistency across different systems. However, the level of integration can vary across vendors, and the additional features may come at a higher cost.
It’s crucial for healthcare startups to thoroughly evaluate their specific needs, resources, and growth plans when selecting an EHR system.
Benefits of EHR Implementation
In the contemporary healthcare landscape, the strategic deployment of EHR software can significantly enhance a startup’s competitiveness, operational efficiency, and patient care delivery. Here’s an in-depth exploration of the numerous benefits that EHR software development brings to the table for emerging healthcare businesses.
- Enhanced efficiency and productivity: EHR systems are designed to automate and streamline a multitude of tasks that would otherwise consume substantial time and resources. From appointment scheduling to order entries, prescription management, and billing, EHR software can automate these tasks, focusing on the core aspect of their roles – patient care. This invariably boosts productivity and fosters an environment where staff can prioritize patient interaction over administrative duties.
- Better informed decision-making: EHR software provides healthcare providers with a comprehensive and real-time overview of a patient’s medical history, including their allergies, medications, past diagnoses, and test results. This wealth of information at their fingertips allows healthcare providers to make evidence-based decisions, ultimately enhancing patient outcomes. The ability to leverage data for improved decision-making can be a game-changer for startups looking to distinguish themselves through superior patient care.
- Streamlined care coordination: EHR systems greatly facilitate the seamless sharing of patient data across different healthcare providers, departments, or even institutions. In the world of healthcare, where interdisciplinary collaboration is often crucial, this can profoundly enhance the coordination and continuity of care. For instance, a primary care physician can promptly share a patient’s medical history with a specialist, ensuring that the latter has all the relevant information before a consultation. This smooth flow of information can be particularly beneficial for patients with complex health conditions requiring multiple specialists’ input.
- Cost savings and financial sustainability: For any startup, financial sustainability is key. While the initial investment in EHR software might seem daunting, the long-term cost savings it offers can significantly contribute to a startup’s financial health. EHR systems can drastically cut down the costs associated with paperwork, such as printing, storage, and transportation. They can also prevent duplicate tests and reduce errors that may lead to costly legal implications.
- Regulatory compliance and quality reporting: Modern healthcare startups operate in a highly regulated environment, with stringent compliance requirements and an increasing emphasis on quality reporting. EHR software, designed with these regulatory frameworks in mind, can help startups adhere to compliance requirements and simplify the process of quality reporting. By offering in-built templates for documentation, EHR software can help ensure that all records meet the prescribed regulatory standards. Similarly, automatic reminders for screenings or vaccinations can improve the quality of care and patient outcomes, thus contributing positively to quality reporting.
- Enhanced patient engagement: In the era of patient-centric care, engagement is paramount. EHR software often comes with features like patient portals, enabling patients to access their own medical records, book appointments, refill prescriptions, and communicate with their providers, all with a few clicks. This not only puts patients in control of their own health but also enhances their engagement.
- Scalability: Healthcare startups are high-growth ventures that require systems that can keep pace with their expansion. EHR software is inherently scalable, allowing for the addition of new users, departments, or even locations with relative ease. This means that as your startup grows, your EHR system can grow with you without the need for substantial additional investments.
EHR Software Features
EHR software offers many features that streamline clinical workflows, improve patient care, and ensure regulatory compliance. Here are the most common features that almost any EHR system should include:
- Appointment scheduling: This feature allows for real-time viewing and editing of provider schedules, automated appointment reminders, and easy rescheduling capabilities. It not only improves the operational efficiency of the healthcare facility by reducing manual work and the risk of double bookings but also enhances the patient experience.
- Patient account: Dramatically improves the patient onboarding process by allowing anyone to sign up for a doctor’s appointment, find any prescription information, and check on the laboratory updates.
- Electronic medical record: Allows for document medical examinations, including initial assessment, epicrisis, and diary entries, registration of patient diagnoses, and medical appointment registration and archiving of the results.
- Digital document workflows: From patient intake and medical consent forms to various agreements, every step of the client workflow has to be digitized.
- Patient insurance management: Improves the efficiency of working with insurance companies by automating business processes. This includes administering patients, prices, and services based on an individual insurance company.
- Laboratory accessories: Assists with automating interactions with a laboratory and instantly imports all relevant data to a patient’s medical profile.
- Medical knowledge base: Provides any doctor with access to promptly updated official recommendations and well-established treatment and diagnostic standards.
- Reporting and analytics: EHR systems often include tools for generating custom reports and analyzing clinical data. This feature can support quality improvement initiatives, assist in compliance with reporting requirements, and provide insights for strategic decision-making.
EHR Challenges and Solution
While EHR software brings a myriad of benefits, implementing such a system is not without its challenges. Here, we will discuss some common hurdles healthcare providers face when adopting EHR software and offer potential solutions to overcome them.
Healthcare Regulation Compliance
Challenge: Healthcare is one of the most heavily regulated industries, and regulations can impact various aspects of EHR systems, from patient privacy and data security to interoperability and reporting. Navigating these complex regulations (HIPAA, GDPR. etc.) can be challenging and non-compliance can lead to substantial penalties.
Solution: Working with EHR software development companies who have a proven track record in regulatory compliance and expertise in the industry can be beneficial. These vendors usually build their EHR systems to meet current regulations and regularly update their software in line with any regulatory changes. Lastly, comprehensive staff training on regulatory requirements can ensure that everyone uses the EHR system in a compliant manner, further mitigating the risk of non-compliance.
Challenge: Despite the existence of health information exchange standards, EHR systems often face issues when sharing data with other systems, leading to fragmented patient information.
Solution: Choosing an EHR system that complies with interoperability standards like HL7 or FHIR can help. Additionally, collaborations with other healthcare providers and IT vendors can enhance data-sharing capabilities. Policymakers are also playing a part by pushing for more standardized data exchange protocols.
Usability and Training
Challenge: Healthcare providers often find EHR systems difficult to use, leading to decreased productivity and user dissatisfaction. This can be due to overly complex interfaces or workflows that do not match the clinical process.
Solution: Selecting development of a custom EHR with an intuitive, user-friendly design can mitigate this issue. Additionally, providing comprehensive, ongoing training for all users is crucial to ensure they can utilize the EHR system effectively. Involving end-users in the selection and implementation process can also help ensure the system meets their needs.
Data Security and Privacy
Challenge: EHR systems hold sensitive patient data and are prime targets for cyberattacks. Data breaches can lead to severe legal and financial consequences and harm the organization’s reputation.
Solution: Implementing robust security measures, such as encryption, secure user authentication, and regular security audits, is essential. Training staff on data security practices and maintaining up-to-date software can further reduce the risk. Additionally, choosing a reliable outsourcing partner will mitigate any security risks.
High Implementation Costs
Challenge: Developing and implementing an EHR system can be expensive, with costs for software, hardware, training, and maintenance.
Solution: Cloud-based EHR systems often have lower upfront costs and can be more affordable for smaller practices. Additionally, strategic planning and careful budgeting can help ensure a return on investment in the long term.