Myths and Facts of EHRs

Myth # 1: Patient privacy is at risk with EHRs

As electronic health records (EHRs) and new online sharing and storing databases have become more widely implemented, there have been ongoing concerns regarding patient privacy. In a recent study from the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions, entitled Physician Perspectives About Health Information Technology, 22 percent of surveyed physicians cited privacy concerns as a barrier to EHR adoption.

According to a Wall Street Journal/Harris Interactive poll, the majority of Americans surveyed believe EHRs have the potential to improve U.S. healthcare and that the benefits outweigh privacy risks. Benefits such as improved care coordination and cost savings for patients should be taken into account.

Previously, we blogged about EHRs and patient privacy.  Using a cloud-based system, a lost laptop or mobile device is useless to unauthorized users because there is no patient data stored on it. In addition, using an EHR makes it easier to share only the information required with other providers, and creates an audit trail of everyone who views a patient record. This type of security can only be accomplished using electronic methods of storing data.

Myth #2: The conversion process from paper to electronic health records is costly and a burden to physicians

Many physicians and hospitals are hesitant to implement EHRs because they feel the process is time-consuming and overwhelming. Some physicians believe that EHR adoption is an all-or-nothing process, which is not always true.

Many systems allow you to use only a portion of the system while your office gets used to documenting electronically.  For example, ePrescribing is one of the features more physician offices adopt first.  Offices have a choice about what to do with their paper patient records, some choosing to scan them into the system, others choosing to only add new information to the EHR and keeping paper records available for a period of time.

The QuestQuanum platform utilizes a stepwise approach to training, which allows physicians to implement separate features of the system at an individualized pace. This means physicians can expand their electronic capabilities without disrupting work flow, allowing for a seamless, hassle-free EHR adoption.

 Myth #3: EHR systems are too expensive for many physicians

The Deloitte Center for Health Solutions study cited cost and upfront financing as the primary concern for physicians, and the top barrier to adoption. However, with as many EHR systems as there are available today, physicians can find a system that works best for their practice and for their budget.

For example, Quanum EHR is hosted entirely online, so there is no need to invest in costly hardware, software licenses or monthly maintenance. By using this technology, physicians can qualify for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) EHR Incentive program, earning up to $44,000 in Medicare incentives or $63,750 in Medicaid incentives.

Myth #4 – All EHR systems are the same

The current Office of the National Coordinator EHR certification process ensures that EHRs have the functionality required to meet specific objectives.  How a vendor chooses to implement that functionality is up to them, and you will find variety when looking at different systems.  To be most effective, an EHR system needs to be able to compliment your office workflow and it is important to look at multiple venders because they are not all the same.  Along with finding a vendor whose solution will work in your office, consider a vendor who will provide a closely interfaced practice management system, have good reporting capabilities and also be easy to use, affordable and readily customizable.

Myth #5 – All EHR systems can communicate with one another

Many EHRs are not able to communicate with one another—due to differences in system design and database servers. New standards such as Direct Protocol are allowing EHR systems to share information, however, only a handful of EHRs have incorporated these standards.  Most systems are only able to share information with other providers using the same system.

Quanum EHR has demonstrated proven interoperability and is able to communicate with other systems.  Quest Diagnostics was one of the first vendors to incorporate this protocol and demonstrate it during the HIMSS conference in 2012. Quest can send and receive information securely with other electronic medical records using the Quanum network, Direct Protocol or via fax records to providers who have not yet adopted an EHR. With this technology, physicians and patients will benefit from the ease of sharing information between staff, patients and providers.

We’d like you to share your thoughts with us, as well as other readers: What other misconceptions did you have before you started using an EHR system? How does your EHR address the concerns you initially had?


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