According to the HIPAA Journal, 41.2M healthcare data records were breached in the year 2019. December alone saw an upsurge in this healthcare nightmare with over 500 breaches of patient data – reported by just 28 healthcare providers. Even worse, these attacks are prone to happen over and over again, primarily due to little expenditure on data protection infrastructure.
EHR integration, therefore, remains a pain point for healthcare providers as further alluded by a survey by Navigant in collaboration with the Healthcare Financial Management Association. According to the study on 108 revenue recycle executives, hospital health systems chiefs and financial officers, it was determined that healthcare providers are;
- Having problems when it comes to keeping at par with EHR upgrades
- Underutilizing the functions of EHR systems.
What are the implications of EHR Integration on RCM
EHR is a systemized collection of the electronically stored health data of patients and population. This digital format information facilitates an inter-system sharing of healthcare data.
EHR and Billing Processes Integration
The capability of EHR integration remains your best bet at driving up RCM benefits. However, today, healthcare providers continue to face challenges when it comes to integrating electronic health records with billing processes.
Lack of EHR Integration systems procurement knowledge
In addition to the integration challenges, there has been a general lack of knowledge and professional input towards the procurement of the right EHR solutions. Most healthcare providers according to an Olive/Sage Growth Partners survey do not have an in-depth understanding of their EHR systems specifications. This makes procuring the correct solution a serious issue.
This is further compounded by the inadequate information of what IT vendors offer you as a healthcare provider.
Violation of Patient Privacy
One major implication of providers’ failure to adopt EHR integration is the violation of patient privacy down the line. EHR systems are designed with robust security features, which we’ll look at further in this article. These features help to protect the privacy of your patients’ data.
In an attempt to address the aspect of EHR integration, most healthcare providers attempt to collaborate with external entities, which include outsourcing and vendor partnerships to improve RCP (Revenue Cycle Performance). Additionally, healthcare providers should be considering consumer-faced IT solutions. Such solutions include online portals for price estimates, payment plans, and financial counseling. This will help improve revenue cycle management.
EHR integration continues to give healthcare providers serious challenges. More so, due to the privacy matters it is meant to address.
The privacy of your patient’s data is a big deal considering the impact of serious breaches. In many instances, patients have failed to disclose their information fearing its breach could result in identity theft.
Healthcare providers who delay the crucial integration of EHR are essentially courting disaster in the form of risking violation of HIPAA. You can avoid similar violations through the integration of certified EHRs. The integrated EHRs must conform automatically to the protocol for safeguarding users against any common mistakes.
Most EHR systems come with standard features. Fortunately, the government mandates that all EHR IT solutions have features that will enable you to enjoy their intrinsic ability to safeguard your health records from breaches.
Want to find out how we do it? Read on, or contact us for a quick chat.
Various Primary Features of Integrated EHRs
All EHR integration solutions should have the following integral features to ease the health provider’s heartache.
- ONC-ATCB Certification
- Data Encryption
- Audit Trials
- Password Protection
While evaluating your EHR IT solutions, check to ensure that it is approved by an ONC (Office of National Coordinator) recognized Authorized Testing and Certification Body. When evaluating EHR systems, ATCB checks for;
- Interoperability- the EHR should be able to communicate with other systems.
- Functionality- ability to create and manage health records
- Security- ability to safeguard patient information.
EHR integration systems solutions must provide a safety net against lackluster passwords. To implement this, information is coded in such a way that it is only deciphered or decrypted by someone with access codes or authorized programs. This should make patient data transfer a lot safer.
The audit trials feature keeps track of access to patients’ records. This enables flagging of any risks such as suspicious activities that could lead to the violation of HIPAA. Audit trials will also enable you to carry out system reviews. This helps to tighten security measures by preventing and correcting human errors.
With EHR continuing to be a major pain point for healthcare providers, adopting a system that is password protected can offer controlled access to patient’s information. Look out for the following password security features that make EHR systems hack-proof;
- Lookout capability which prevents unwarranted access into the system containing patient data using wrong login credentials
- Complex and robust password requirements that make the EHRs password difficult to guess
- Validation of password with further security questions
- Additional security layer provided by 2-factor authentication.
These features make EHR systems a sound solution to the breach of healthcare records and a boost for providers looking to avoid HIPAA violations.
Due to the intrinsic value of EHR integration, it was projected that EHRs would be the primary drivers for extensive performance improvements. Unfortunately, this has not been entirely true in most cases. Budget constraints continue to encumber integration of EHRs which leaves most healthcare organizations prone to breaches.
According to a survey by Black Book Matters, hospitals systems protection IT budgets rose by 6% only, while physician cyber security has been on the decline since 2018. Even worse, 92% of these providers don’t even have a fulltime system security staff.
However, healthcare provider’s management, it might seem, are now more intent on using an expanded IT budget to solve the data breach issues. Currently, nearly seven in 10 (69 percent) are predicting their IT budgets will rise in the coming years.
In the meantime, providers are looking to leverage advanced technology to address their lack of integrated EHR systems. This is a pain point they have struggled to shake off simply because they’re finding it increasingly difficult source to invest in an area that does not produce revenue with epic EHR integration.