Electronic Medical Record (EMR) systems have proven their worth within the healthcare system by improving patient care, reducing costs, and augmenting patient safety. These systems contain a wealth of information that is currently under-utilized and not analyzed effectively. With the correct analytics technology, a great deal of insight can be garnered from such data to help improve the operations of the healthcare provider.
Within the last several years, many EMR vendors have caught wind of this and have upgraded their core product with additional data analytic capabilities. In theory, this sounds like an excellent combination. However, in practice, these solutions present many challenges.
The following are challenges met by many EMR systems:
- Numerous EMR vendors haven chosen to build their own add-on analytic software, rather than utilizing an established commercially available platform. This proves to be a difficult undertaking for the vendor, steering them off course from their core offering and producing a rudimentary analytics solution subpar to those currently available.
- Data integration with other external systems such as financial and operational is complex and difficult to achieve by built-in EMR analytics. This prohibits the healthcare provider from gaining insight across domains thereby eliminating the possibility of comprehensive reporting or analysis.
- Data visualization is often not user friendly and designed more for a data analyst rather than a healthcare provider or business user. Proper visualization of EMR data requires domain expertise in the healthcare space and a high degree of design knowledge to present data simply and effectively. EMR vendors may often have expertise in one, but not both, of these arenas.
- Healthcare systems often require customization of analytics software in order to meet specific requirements; whether it be to analyze their patient data or achieve clinical metrics. Many current built-in EMR analytics systems are unable to achieve this degree of customization, often leading to erroneous results which could potentially impact the healthcare system’s financial and patient care outcomes.
These challenges often force healthcare systems to develop their own analytics capabilities, a daunting feat which requires time and resources often not available. What is truly necessary is an analytics software provider that not only knows healthcare well, but is also able to utilize the best-in-breed analytics software. This, coupled with the domain expertise within the healthcare space, will lead to the creation of an integrated solution that meets the requirements of the healthcare provider.