Healthcare is one of the fastest-growing industries in the world. In developed nations, healthcare comprises over 10 percent of the national GDP. As a major economic contributor, healthcare should be at the forefront of technological advancements. However, despite the acceleration of technology, many institutions struggle with integrating evolved technology due to a lagging regulatory framework and costly tech overhauls.
Many medical institutions are certainly eager to adopt new technology that streamline and secure daily operations. But one of the biggest issues is that healthcare cannot simply be “disrupted” by technology; on the contrary, it has to be slowly introduced and accepted. A 2019 RSA Digital Risk Report identified several reasons why healthcare professionals are hesitant to accept technological advancements.
Among those reasons include skepticism towards technology’s ability to cater to an institution’s unique needs, fear that computers will take human jobs, and fear of technological risk such as cyber attacks.
In another report, the US Government Accountability Office (GAO) identified major legacy systems that are in desperate need of modernization, many of which were built using antiquated programming languages like COBOL—as is the case with the Department of Health software.
Still, waiting to update technology at a medical institution—whether it’s a major hospital or small urgent care—can pose even more risk. But here are five reasons why now is the time to replace legacy healthcare software:
Improve Customer Experience
Medical software has the ability to create better patient experiences and increase customer loyalty. Even the most simple software improvements, such as online paperwork procedures, record access, and virtual appointments can help retain current patients and acquire new ones.
New technology can also help patients understand their health data better. A greater level of transparency between patient records and patients is necessary. How those records are communicated makes patients feel more comfortable with their care and overall health. Wearable devices and patient portals allow patients to view their health data in real-time and analyze existing data in easily digestible ways.
Boost Staff Efficiency
Inefficiency results in roughly one-third of waste in the United States healthcare system. According to the Institute of Medicine, $765 billion of the $2.5 trillion the United States spends on health can be attributed to “excessive costs,” such as unnecessary testing and redundant care. These inefficiencies can often be attributed to a lack of communication between providers and between providers and patients.
Updating your software and integrating new systems can help your staff become much more efficient with daily operations. For example, adding updated cloud-based electronic health records allows virtual medical assistants to read and maintain health records with greater ease. It will also be easier for them to monitor and communicate with patients, improving both the quality of life of the patient and the quality of work for the clinical employees.
Protect Data & Maintain HIPAA Compliance
HIPAA-compliant software and data protection is mandatory and is easily the most important element of any new technology health businesses introduce. HIPAA-compliant software includes all necessary security and privacy safeguards, including secure cloud storage and messaging. For example, as virtual doctor appointments become more commonplace, HIPAA-compliant video communication vendors like Zoom for Healthcare, Cisco Webex Meetings, Updox, and Amazon Chime are being integrated into healthcare frameworks.
Proper medical translation software and/or services is also important. There are nearly 50 million Americans whose first language isn’t English; in fact, with the exception of Mexico, Colombia, and Argentina, more people speak Spanish at home in the United States than in any country in Latin America. When it comes to translating medical-related communication, there’s no room for error. Proper health survey translation in particular allows healthcare professionals to provide accurate treatment to non-English speaking patients and to ensure that all translation is HIPAA compliant.
Improve Data Exchange Between Systems
Legacy solutions have poor data interchange between systems. Updated EHRs are able to communicate efficiently with other systems. Even with the proliferation of healthcare technology, EHR interoperability isn’t as efficient as it could be in many cases. EHR interoperability refers to the process by which EHRs are able to communicate and integrate with other systems to safely share information. According to the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) board, there are three essential parts of EHR interoperability:
- Foundational Interoperability: Allows the system to provide data while simultaneously receiving information
- Structural Interoperability: Allows providers to see unaltered patient data as it passes through the system
- Semantic Interoperability: Allows data to be restructured and codified correctly to that every system can understand new data
Stay Ahead of the Market
Medical companies that neglect technological advancements in the industry will inevitably fall behind. In order to remain competitive, medical software integration is integral to growth. There are several signs that your legacy system might be failing you. These signs include frequent crashes, vendors that no longer provide support, device-dependent software, and solutions that don’t integrate with other software.
Chances are there are just as many reasons a healthcare company might put off eradicating legacy systems as there are reasons to get rid of it. It’s difficult to make major changes without interrupting operations, complete hardware and software integrations are costly, and integrations are complex.
However, it’s important to conduct a proper audit of your system and forecast losses and gains. While you’ll be in the deficit to start, implementing updated software and solutions acts as insurance against potential future complications that could cripple the business and put patients’ health (and records) at risk.