Considering the United States spends nearly 18% of GDP on healthcare, it is puzzling to think the industry is so behind when it comes to using technology in everyday processes. Although there are tremendous advancements in artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, and big data computing, most healthcare organizations still rely heavily on the fax machine to communicate with other facilities, fill lab orders, and get payment approval from insurance companies.
In a fragmented system in which many providers are just now embarking on the journey of EMR/EHR integrations, it is often difficult to see a future where healthcare technologies coordinate seamlessly with one another to deliver better care quality.
Over the last two decades, healthcare providers, mainly hospitals, have been steadily moving away from paper-based files towards electronic systems including those provided by Cerner, EPIC, McKesson, and Allscripts. This process has been slow moving and although 90% of hospitals have made the change to EMRs, based on the number of hospitals reporting to CMS’s EHR incentive program, many physicians, nursing facilities, surgery centers, and home health agencies rely on paper-based and outdated systems. Without the upside of financial incentives and the high costs of implementation, integrations, upkeep, and reporting, many of these smaller facilities are unable to install electronic-based systems.
Dr. Michael Kleinman, a general surgeon based in Houston, Texas, has worked with many EHRs since hospitals started making the shift away from paper-based files in the late 90’s. “The only reason care providers were willing to move from the security and ease of the traditional filing system was because of the promise of a better more efficient way of doing things. Although there are many benefits to using digital systems, there are more limitations and challenges than most providers bargained for.”
When it comes to the topic of interoperability, the spotlight is almost immediately thrust upon EMR providers. While these companies play a major role in the day-to-day aspects of patient care, innovators in healthcare technology, including those outside the EMR ecosystem, will likely play the biggest role in finding ways to deliver on the promise for an interoperable and better communication and documentation system.
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