When a new update to your EHR is released, you may be tempted to put off installing it.
Perhaps you do not subscribe to technical support from your vendor, or you are concerned about the cost of hiring professional assistance for your office’s software. Whatever the reason is, you should be aware of the benefits of updating and maintaining your EHR.
Keeping your EHR properly updated helps prevent security breaches, provides you with the latest available features from your software vendor, and enables you to take advantage of bug-fixing patches that keep your software in working condition. Considering how much of an investment EHR is for many chiropractic clinics, protecting that investment should be a high priority.
For security sake
Data breaches are a continuous risk for healthcare offices. If you have EHR, you are required to make good-faith attempts to prevent breaches from happening. Updating your software regularly is one way to demonstrate interest in protecting patient information.
Unfortunately, security breaches are relatively common. One survey of 297 healthcare organizations conducted by the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society found that around two-thirds experienced a recent, significant security threat.¹ The participants also expressed feelings of being overwhelmed by the variety of potential threats. These survey results suggest that healthcare providers are not merely concerned about security problems—often, security issues are an ongoing reality.
Prevention is key. As you manage your practice, there are only so many threats you can actively prevent on your own. Software handles much of the burden of keeping patient data secure. As such, chiropractic offices are better off updating.
Features and functionality
While EHR has progressed substantially, there is still much progress yet to come. Interoperability is still an important issue for many products and healthcare software still faces many ease-of-use and functionality hurdles. With each new version, vendors have the opportunity to make significant progress towards their usability goals.
For the time being, healthcare IT will continue to face continuous disruption. Each software product is enormously complicated, but on a national scale, this complexity increases exponentially as different pieces of software communicate with each other. The health IT system as a whole is so complicated that full interoperability may not happen for a while–certainly not until additional ground rules are set nationally.²
Realistically speaking, updates and upgrades are essential in this unstable IT environment.
As you consider updates, however, keep in mind that careful planning and management is often necessary to reduce staff burnout and other potential problems. Frequent updates may be confusing and frustrating to some people.
Whenever possible, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) batching updates together. By installing multiple updates at a time, you can help your employees (or help yourself) to adjust gradually to new features. This strategy may reduce frustration in your office.³
Whether or not your software is probably updated, your workforce’s knowledge of and comfort with EHR is an important factor in your office’s successful use of the technology. Investing in quality training for yourself and your staff members is worthwhile and may prevent misuse of software as well as unnecessary frustration. Recent research suggests that user satisfaction with EHR may be dropping as more people struggle to make the most from software features. You may need to use training courses or enlist help from your EHR vendor to provide training.³
Keep it current
By updating as often as you can, you will be reducing the potential negative consequences of using out-of-date systems. This may protect your patients and help you provide better care. Before you start, outline a plan to regularly review available updates and decide when they are right for your office.
¹HIMSS. “HIMSS Survey Finds Two-Thirds of Healthcare Organizations Experienced a Significant Security Incident in Recent Past.” Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society.. Published June 2015. Accessed May 2016.