It's no secret that EMR adoption has been a mixed blessing for hospitals and medical practices. While the software offers significant advantages, it represents a major shift in policy and process – as well as technical challenges that sometimes grind productivity to a halt.
However, as time goes on, EMR software evolves and improves. To that end, the Journal of American Medical Informatics Association recently issued a five-point platform to guide ongoing EMR development:
- Simplifying and expediting documentation
- Modifying regulations
- Improving transparency and streamlining certification
- Fostering innovative features
- Focusing on patient-first care delivery
Each of these elements touch on pain points for doctors (and patients) who want more out of their EMR software. In 2021, look for EMR developers to incorporate these aspects into their existing solutions, remodeling EMR software and delivering better care to patients.
Allied Market Research has reported that the global EMR software industry will eclipse $33 billion in value by 2023, up from $24.9 billion in 2017. That represents a 5% compound annual growth rate over a six-year period. The fastest-growing segment of the EMR industry, the report states, is cloud-based software. Inpatient EMR software holds the majority of market share around the world as well; however, ambulatory EMR software is expected to grow more quickly through 2023. The main drivers of EMR software adoption are a rise in chronic conditions, an increase in the general population age, and government regulations that either incentivize or mandate the adoption of EMR software.
Before COVID-19, interoperability of healthcare IT systems and data sharing were major priorities for both regulators and healthcare organizations. While a lot of ground has been covered since EMR adoption began, there have been significant challenges in dismantling data silos between competing software companies in the healthcare space. The spread of the novel coronavirus highlighted areas where data sharing was lacking.
During the COVID-19 outbreak, healthcare providers and public health officials have encountered challenges in pooling data from the many EMR systems on the market to identify potential treatment plans. Despite the large-scale shift toward digitized health records, a uniform database of de-identified healthcare information does not exist, and creating one on the fly is riddled with obstacles.
To combat this problem, private sector organizations (including many EMR vendors) have come together to form the COVID-19 Healthcare Coalition. The coalition is working to improve access to healthcare data that could be useful in identifying effective treatment plans for COVID-19 and potentially save lives. To achieve this, it will facilitate communication and aggregation of healthcare data from various EMR systems in use nationwide.
While interoperability was a priority before the coronavirus pandemic, it will be imperative moving forward. Healthcare providers should consider systems that emphasize sharing data and interfacing with other platforms. EMR vendors are likely to improve their interoperability features and integrations in future software updates. Expect the COVID-19 pandemic to accelerate the movement toward full interoperability across healthcare IT systems – and to prompt public health officials and agencies to step up regulatory efforts.