Top Five Potential Drawbacks of Electronic Health Records


Electronic medical records (EHRs) seem to be the current trend in health care, and you’ll find many physicians, allied health professionals, pharmacists and hospitals using some form of electronic recording of patient data. Despite the many advantages of a more uniform approach to documenting medical care and coordinating care when patients see several specialists, there are some disadvantages to electronic medical records. As patients more regularly experience doctor’s visits with electronic health records (EHRs) they may notice some of the disadvantages immediately. Other problems occur “behind the scenes,” outside of a patient’s surveillance. We have already explored the many advantages of EHRS, but what are the disadvantages?

The following is a list of top five potential drawbacks of EHR systems:

  1. Privacy Protection
    There will always been privacy issues in the healthcare system on who has access to your medical records. With a pen and paper system, with the physical file located at a particular institution there is a limit to who can see your records. Even if there was a security breach and your information is not secured, it is only available to people in that proximity. But in a situation where your information is sent to a centralized information repository in digital format, all bets are off. This privacy concern is a big issue with many people and will continue to be an issue until it is addressed for good.
  2. Medical records synchronization
    Until recently with centralized information repositories, individuals being treated at different facilities could not have their information updated at the same time, which could lead to healthcare providers not having updated information when they become available. However, with centralized repositories this problem has been solved, but it has given rise to the above mentioned issue of data security and protection.
  3. High startup cost
    At a time when healthcare organizations need to reduce their costs, allocating capital to information systems is still a challenge. There is a high startup cost when transforming a pen and paper system to EHR. Some physicians do not see any immediate benefit to their practice in the short run and drag their feet in implementing EHR.
  4. Legal issues
    Taking the healthcare industry to court has in the past few decades been a lucrative venture for attorneys trying to right the wrong done to a patient, whether by omission or commission.
  5. Lack of standardized terminology, system architecture, and indexing
    In order for an EHR to be shared, not only must there be a standard language developed, but a unique health identifier must also be developed. Today there are many vendors with just as many software applications. Data cannot be shared unless a gooey interface is written, and unfortunately these interfaces are not always accurate or dependable. When a standard language is developed systems will then have greater flexibility and will have capacity for the diverse requirements of the different healthcare disciplines.

Doctors are already practicing defensive medicine and electronic health record system brings a new potential avenue for litigation and revenue stream for lawyers. With a new system, anything can go wrong, the system could fail or the stored data stolen. Improper uses of collected information are all potential avenues for a lawsuit.

Gradually, electronic health record system is gaining traction. More and more doctors are embracing it, and depending on the part of the country you are looking at, conversion could be as high as 40%. With government involvement and the amount of resources it is investing, the time will come when digital medical record keeping will be the norm.