disadvantages Electronic Health Records

Electronic Health Records (EHRs) have helped to revolutionize patient data management by eliminating the need for inconvenient paper documents and easing the transfer of medical information between healthcare providers. Although the advantages are clear, it is worth noting that electronic health records also come with some potential drawbacks.

In this guide, we’ll take a closer look at the disadvantages of Electronic Health Records, so you can clearly understand any important concerns or considerations resulting from the electronic handling of your private medical information.

What are the benefits of Electronic Health Records?

As briefly mentioned in the introduction, Electronic Health Records (EHRs) offer numerous significant benefits:

  • Standardization of documents: EHRs facilitate medical document standardization, making it easier to manage and reference.
  • Improved care for patients: Digital health records can make it easier for primary caregivers to access accurate and up-to-date patient information, thereby improving the care they receive. It also allows medical professionals to access aggregated health data to analyze medical trends.
  • Reduction of errors: EHRs can help minimize medical errors by enhancing access to and accuracy of patient data.
  • Improved efficiency for healthcare providers: Digitized health records make it faster and more efficient to enter, secure, and retrieve patient records. This streamlines the process for healthcare professionals who are constantly dealing with data.
  • Improved data sharing: EHRs can allow for secure data sharing between medical institutions – allowing for speedy communication of vital healthcare information.
  • Compliance with data privacy and security regulations: With the rise of legal requirements like the GDPR and CCPA, EHRs allow healthcare providers to store patient data in compliant storage solutions that meet recognized security standards.
  • Enhanced privacy and data security: Besides permitting simpler compliance with legal standards and regulations, digitization of health records can help to improve data security.
  • Improved access for patients: Digitization of medical information can allow patients to more easily access their information from home, allowing them to feel more involved in their health care.
  • Instantaneous and secure access: They allow for immediate, secure access and transfer of data whenever necessary.

Despite these clear advantages, some healthcare facility managers remain skeptical and are hesitant to transition to a paperless system. So, what is causing this hesitancy? And are there any crucial disadvantages to consider when it comes to your sensitive health care records?

What are the disadvantages of Electronic Health Records?

We want you to understand any potential risks and considerations caused by patient data being stored in a digitized state. Below, we have analyzed each distinct disadvantage of electronic health records – so you can fully comprehend how digital records affect both healthcare providers and individuals.

1. High setup costs

Although, in the long term, digitized health records can reduce costs and simplify healthcare processes, the initial cost can be high. The initial investment required to transition from paper records to an electronic healthcare system can create a substantial barrier to entry. As a result, not all medical institutions may be able to afford to upgrade their systems. The costs of updating to a new electronic system can also directly create interoperability issues. Not to mention, a medical institution’s entire staff must be trained how to handle EHRs safely.

2. Training

Introducing a new electronic system will involve comprehensive staff training to ensure proficient and secure use of new technologies. The transition period from a traditional system to a digitized environment can potentially expose the organization to security risks unless everything is managed carefully.

For example, risks such as data breaches or unauthorized access need to be mitigated from day one – making employee training a critical part of the deployment process.

Efficient training is critical not only to ensure that everyday operations continue smoothly but also to ensure that compliance with relevant healthcare, security, and privacy regulations is achieved without error.

This vital training process is likely to result in substantial additional costs, meaning that proper planning and resource allocation are critical components of the onboarding process.

3. Setup and migration problems

The process of moving from a traditional paper system to electronic health records can result in substantial migration issues, including data loss, data corruption, formatting problems, and other potential flaws or errors.

Migrating all relevant information accurately and completely from the old system must be done securely and will require meticulous planning and a high level of technical competence. As a result, this may require additional help from a technically proficient third party with experience in managing such a complex task.

4. Device compatibility

Moving to a digitized health records system may create accessibility issues regarding device compatibility. Medical institutions will need to consider the various devices that might be used to access data and must ensure that security and privacy standards are robust regardless of which device is used to access patient records.

5. Technical glitches

Electronic Health Records are more vulnerable to technical glitches, which can result in unwanted errors or an inability for healthcare professionals to access crucial records on time. This may lead to treatment postponement or other unwanted ramifications caused by the technical problem.

6. Maintenance

An electronic health records system may require periodic maintenance and could suffer from technical problems and downtime. This could put crucial medical records offline temporarily, causing delays and affecting the level of care available for patients.

7. Cyberattacks

Although the digitization of health records enhances security by restricting physical access, it also introduces the threat of cyberattacks. Even with stringent security measures in place, all digital systems are potentially vulnerable to breaches or accidental leaks.

Hackers can exploit newly discovered vulnerabilities to create new attack vectors. Cybercriminals can also develop sophisticated new attack methods and malware – giving hackers the upper hand until security is updated accordingly.

Continuous investment in security can mitigate these risks. However, tactics like phishing can always be exploited to compromise user credentials, allowing unauthorized access to sensitive medical information.

8. Privacy concerns

In addition to the concerns created by cybersecurity and potential cyberattacks, digital systems may also create privacy concerns regarding improperly sharing or repurposing of health information.

Depending on the health provider and its policies, health information could be shared with affiliates for research, marketing, or insurance purposes. This means that data could be used in ways a patient was not initially aware of and may not have explicitly agreed to.

Patients need to understand the privacy policies of the different medical organizations and services they decide to pay for and use and to be aware of the potential for information to be shared with third parties if those privacy policies allow it.

9. Interoperability problems

As more healthcare services start using electronic health records (EHRs), differences in how quickly medical institutions adopt this technology can lead to complications with sharing patient information. If an electronic record system isn’t accessible to all healthcare providers, this may impact a patient’s quality of care.

The high initial costs associated with digitizing records mean some facilities are inevitably left behind, creating critical communication gaps between updated healthcare providers and those still using older systems.

These interoperability problems can prevent the seamless exchange of patient information, potentially affecting patient care or creating additional work for the institutions involved.

These communication obstacles may also produce unforeseen security risks, creating additional or unforeseen attack surfaces and compliance issues that must be resolved.

10. Compliance issues

Healthcare organizations must handle the migration to digitized health records with legal compliance in mind. Medical institutions must carefully consider all applicable privacy laws and security standards to ensure they implement new systems legally compliant.

Organizations must provide adequate training to ensure all staff know how to legally handle patient records. In addition, medical facilities and organizations should implement hierarchical access controls that ensure that sensitive patient data is only accessible to employees who need it.

Installing a new electronic health records system must also consider the ability to comply with consumer privacy rights promptly. This includes the ability to comply with consumer requests to access, erase, port over, or alter any of their personal information – as is legally required by regulations like GDPR, CCPA, and HIPAA.

Difference between Electronic Health Records (EHR) and Electronic Medical Records (EMR)

Both EHRs and EMRs involve the storage of patient data in digital form, but they differ in scope and functionality. EMRs refer to medical records for individual procedures and illnesses and are processed and controlled by individual healthcare providers.

EHRs, on the other hand, are more comprehensive and are designed to be accessed and used by healthcare providers across multiple settings. Unlike EMRs, EHRs contain a patient’s full medical history and provide a broader view of a patient’s care. EHRs must often be shared with multiple healthcare facilities, allowing information to travel with the patient to specialists, labs, imaging facilities, emergency facilities, etc.