Feature July 6, 2022 John Bernot, MD

EHRs are slowing health tech innovation

Use of quality measures to improve health outcomes is limited by poor attribution and low adoption of value-based care.

Electronic Health Records (EHR)1 are digital versions of paper medical charts. In theory, this technology should have been a game-changer in the medical field. It gives providers immediate access to the tools they need directly in a patient’s chart. There are, however, several roadblocks and other issues with this type of technology. 

The lack of interoperability along with regulations has created a headache for the health tech industry and is stifling innovation. 

Let’s look at how EHRs are impeding health tech innovation. 

Lack of interoperability 

To start, the main issue in healthcare is the continued lack of interoperability between EHRs and other applications. 

For example, if you wanted to view data obtained from a virtual health platform via the EHR, you can’t necessarily do so without an integration interface. This is true for any third-party digital health application or platform your organization may use. 

This has created a significant problem for health tech vendors who now have to concern themselves with integration. Without the ability to ‘plug and play,’ innovative health technology solutions will go underutilized in the industry. 

However, integration isn’t the only barrier—data and information blocking is another factor. 

Data blocking in the medical industry 

Medical data is not something to play around with, and there are several laws protecting patient information. When EHRs were created, the developer typically set up information blocking that can only be bypassed by law and can make exchanging electronic health information extremely difficult. 

Data blocking is not only a problem for transferring information, but it can also result in patients not getting the care they need. 

According to Section 4004 of the Cures Act,2 information blocking should only be allowed to prevent harm or protect privacy and security. 

There have been several instances where an EHR’s information blocking policy has led to patient harm. An article in Health Leader’s Media3 states that a woman was never sent for a scan that could have saved her life because it wasn’t transmitted through the EHR due to information blocking. 

The short answer is that there needs to be additional regulatory pressure put on EHR companies to resolve the issue and play nice with everyone in the healthcare ecosystem.

Without regulatory intervention, data blocking will continue to negatively impact the ability of health tech vendors to seamlessly integrate potentially life-saving solutions into a patient’s EHR. 

The future of EHRs

The lack of true interoperability in the industry makes innovations that could potentially improve patient outcomes and lower the cost of care near impossible to implement and adopt. The issue also makes care teams’ jobs more time-consuming and frustrating—and could potentially put patients in unnecessarily harmful situations. 

Going forward, EHRs and digital health platforms must be able to seamlessly integrate with each other. This will create peace of mind for providers and patients, and create an environment for digital health technology to thrive. 

What do you think about the role of EHRs in health tech innovation? Let us know by filling out our poll on LinkedIn.

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Shane Andreasen

Bravado Health

shane@bravadohealth.com

Bravado Health Media Line

media@bravadohealth.com

(561) 805-5935