Electronic Health Records or EHR as they’re more widely known, is a part of the ever-growing list of acronyms that litter the landscape of American healthcare. Every year brings its own set of challenges for the EDR industry. Today’s EDRs that are hosted in the cloud and deliver services over the Internet to providers are a far cry from the first generation contenders. Healthcare IT experts have surmounted some challenges and continue to work on others.
What does 2018 hold for EDR systems and how will the industry respond? Sometimes issues that will take center stage include:
New Policy Goals for a New Administration
As we move into 2018, the Affordable Care Act will look very different from what we are familiar with. There is a lot of uncertainty regarding the future as healthcare entities wait to see what policymakers bring to the table. Will the administration scrap healthcare reform or modify some parts of it? Amid speculation that some features will stay while others become optional, no one knows how insurers will respond to these changes. Any change in insurance premiums will drive people out of the market and increase the proportion of uninsured citizens once more.
The meaningful use program has aided the growth of the EDR market in many ways. For some experts argue that the stringent regulation is overkill, others insist that it does not go far enough. We might see changes here as well and EDR vendors should be on the lookout on behalf of their clients.
Security Takes Center Stage
2017 saw the rise of ransomware and targeted attacks on provider networks. As more EDR software moves to the cloud to benefit from the mobility and flexibility it offers, hackers also find them attractive. A person’s medical record is even more valuable on the black market than credit card information. Cards can be canceled and accounts can be closed but a person’s health information is permanent. This data offers potential for blackmail, identity theft, insurance fraud and a host of other crimes.
The healthcare industry generally spends less on IT than other technology driven verticals like banks. 2018 will have to be the year this changes. As providers and vendors strive to improve security, there will be a shortage of experts who specialize in healthcare IT. Nevertheless privacy and security will become a focus for the healthcare industry in the future.
Mobility and Access Become Paramount
Today’s consumers are familiar with smart phones and accustomed to performing various tasks on small screens. Phones and tablets have replaced bulkier laptops and desktops in many environments. Patients expect their healthcare to be no different. The question will change from ‘can I access my healthcare records online?’ to ‘Why can’t I access my records?’
Patient portals are one solution but we are only halfway there. Many EDRs do not have an integrated patient portal which means that providers have to use third-party software. Even the ones that have functioning portals are not fully accessible on mobile devices and require a laptop. In 2018, patients will no longer wait for providers to catch up.
Telemedicine, mobile healthcare tracking apps and a plethora of smart devices can aid practitioners in providing care. But all of this has to be backed by research and investment. More importantly, doctors and healthcare professionals have to use them. EDR providers should focus on UI/UX, usability and data analytics to help practitioners when they need it.
Quite a few providers and hospitals have become disillusioned with specific EDRs and even the industry as a whole. It is up to developers and vendors to step up and show that EDRs are here to stay.