Why Hospitals Are Hesitant to Adopt Healthcare Analytics
In today’s healthcare scenario, it is important for all hospitals to adopt new technologies to improve their services and operations. By deploying Healthcare Information Systems (HIS) and health analytics tools, hospitals can have all medical tests, lab reports and prescribed medications for patients at one central location. By accessing all of the patient information from one single electronic dashboard, clinicians can significantly improve the way they make decisions about their patients – while at the same time, cutting costs for the healthcare organization. With analytics, clinicians can gain a deeper understanding into the cause of diseases and provide preventive as well as curative treatment to a large population. It is imperative for more and more hospitals to implement Healthcare Information Systems.
While several countries including the U.S.A., Australia, Canada, UAE and others are slowly moving towards value-based care, studies show that only 15.2% of Malaysian Public Hospitals have implemented healthcare analytics tools. When there are so many benefits to gain from healthcare analytics, what is the reason that hospitals are shying away from adopting this new technology and how can they overcome their hurdles?
This blog aims to identify some of the major roadblocks and ways to address them so that analytics can be adopted by more hospitals.
Slow adoption of electronic health record systems
EHRs when deployed effectively, can replace old challenges in providing healthcare services. While the adoption of electronic health record (EHR) systems has doubled in the last decade, there is still a long way to go.
Some of the practical concerns related to EHR adoption are:
- Initial setup and maintenance costs are high.
- Healthcare staff are resistant to the change from a paper-based manual system to a paperless system of maintaining patient records. It is difficult to share records between hospitals or facilities, and provide secure access to patient information.
- Physicians spend more time entering data into the EHR systems, which results in a drop in productivity.
- EHR systems are prone to errors that can compromise patient safety and decrease the quality of care. In addition, such data is not useful for data analytics.
Very few patients receive all of their treatment at the same healthcare facility, and hence have their medical data spread across different healthcare facilities. This means that hospitals must be able to exchange their EHR data with other healthcare providers and this data must be accessible on BYOD devices, on mobiles, and over the cloud.
Data interoperability is a major concern for all healthcare organizations because different healthcare solution vendors have designed and implemented EHRs according to their own standards. There is no specific industry standard for EHRs. Lack of interoperability makes it difficult to share patient data between organizations. Hence, doctors do not have all the key information they require to take important medical decisions for their patients and results in duplication of medical tests, which not only makes the overall treatment process slow but also adds to the cost of the treatment.
Poor Data quality
Most healthcare systems face data quality issues that impede analytics, including disparate data, corrupt data, heterogeneous data, missing or inaccurate timestamps and values. IT vendors need to provide tools to clean up the data which could include logic rules to compare, contrast, and correct large datasets.
Lack of skilled staff and high training costs
Health Information Systems require skilled staff to operate it to leverage its advantages completely. This requires healthcare staff to undergo thorough training on the usage of the healthcare systems, such as EMRs and EHRs, which encourages proactive healthcare practices. However, it has been found that there is a resistance to change among healthcare staff, which makes them reluctant to undergo training session and adopt new technology.
Other factors include limited resources for planning and coordinating the training sessions, as well as costs involved in providing ongoing training to use the EMR/EHR systems effectively.
Concerns about data security
Patients are always concerned about the security of their health data. Hospitals need to obtain the consent of their patients to record their information in EHR systems and in turn, use it for further analytics. Further, hospitals need to ensure that the privacy of its patients is being safeguarded by regulation.
Moreover, IT systems are vulnerable to threats from hackers and virus threats. The HIPAA Security Rule includes recommendations for storing patient information, which includes authentication protocols and controlled access to sensitive information. But most hospitals are not well equipped to handle such threats. Hospitals must remind their staff to frequently update anti-virus software, change authentication passwords, set up and encrypt sensitive data to keep such threats at bay.
HIS systems and Healthcare analytics are beneficial for every healthcare provider even though they have their own challenges. Both payers and providers must work together to address the challenges so that more healthcare organizations can embrace healthcare analytics to improve quality of care and patient safety.