Challenges in Adoption of EHR

January 2, 2020 - Parul Saini, Webmedy Team

Updated Version - July 25, 2023

Advanced technology like Electronic Health Records (EHR) has changed the way healthcare professionals operate. Gone are the days when medical records were mostly paper-based.

By implementing EHRs, physicians have organized records. Also, there is support for prescriptions, and orders to offer more efficient and quality patient care.

Despite the positive results and effects of EHRs usage in healthcare, the adoption rate of EHRs is still very low, this is because hospitals and healthcare continuously face many challenges in adopting, maintaining their electronic health record systems.


Challenges in implementation of EHR can occur in different areas including problems such as training, data-sharing, lack of patient adoptions.

  • Time

    Many physicians, mostly those working in small practices, admit that they fear to lose their business as a result of putting their right amount of time in deploying EHRs. Also, physicians fear putting additional time for data entry and record keeping. Many EHR practice management platforms, however, offer customizable and efficient data entry workflows using templates and wizards that greatly reduce the time taken for patient medical record keeping.

  • Training

    Hospital staff needs additional training related to the EHR practice management platform and its workflows. Effectively training users and staff before and during the adoption of EHRs is important to reduce the challenges related to low productivity and avoiding a condition in which users become dissatisfied and frustrated due to lack of proper training.

  • Cost

    Few physicians don't have enough cash on hand to invest in an EHR system. Plus there is an inability to calculate the total amount of cost when training, support, and maintenance are taken into account. For small practices, without large IT budgets, the cost will always remain the biggest obstacle in the implementation of EHRs.

  • Interoperability

    Since long, interoperability is the biggest challenge in EHR space. Interoperability is an important factor as it reduces the electronic health record's cost. Interoperability is a vital factor, it can reduce rework by physicians also it makes it more feasible for small groups of doctors to adopt EHR with an assurance that their investment will be worthwhile and its system would be able to integrate and interoperate with other EHR systems.

  • Data Migration

    Moving towards an electronic system from a paper-based system could result in data loss. Data entry and scanning documents can be time-consuming tasks. The main purpose of moving towards an electronic system is not to archive all paper records, but to move critical information of patients' medical history for future access.

  • Interaction

    Implementing an Electronic Health Record is more than a functional IT task. To adopt a fully functional system, care providers and IT staff need to interact and communicate freely, openly and effectively. It's like a two way street of sharing knowledge. IT staff want their physicians to have tools for the treatment of their patients. Providers want their feedback to be included in their fixes and advancement of EHR systems.

  • Patient acceptance

    Practices usually adopt a new system to improve their quality and service by engaging patients, which can effectively improve patient's outcomes. But any goals of improving patient engagement can't be achieved until and unless patients are not able or unwilling to adopt EHR features such as patient portal, which improves patient engagement. It is equally important for patients to adopt EHRs.

  • Suitable Vendors

    One of the obstacles in the adoption of EHRs is the lack of technical training and support from vendors. Hence, the quality of vendors of EHR systems is vital for the adoption of EHR. Care providers are concerned that vendors are not suitable and qualified enough to offer proper service and technical support which results in a large financial loss. Adoption of Electronic Health records, just like any other technology depends on users that are willing to see how technology is useful and easily understood with little or no difficulty.

Well, there are many benefits and challenges related to EHRs. As the healthcare sector is ready to transform, these growing difficulties will ultimately resolve. To have a positive impact on the EHR system, care providers should be able to use these systems effectively. By considering these factors care providers will be able to use EHRs effectively, which in turn will improve safety and quality of care. The focus should be reducing the clerical work of care providers while continuously improving safety, quality, communication, efficiency, and patient engagement.

Helpful Information

What are Electronic Health Records (EHRs) and their importance in healthcare?

Electronic Health Records (EHRs) are digital versions of a patient's paper charts, which contain the patient's medical history, diagnoses, medications, treatment plans, immunization dates, allergies, and more. EHRs streamline and improve the efficiency of patient care, provide accurate, updated, and complete information about patients, help in coordinating the care they receive, and support key market changes in payer requirements and consumer expectations.

What are the main challenges in adopting EHR systems?

The main challenges in adopting EHR systems include high initial implementation costs, lack of interoperability, difficulty in use, privacy and security concerns, and resistance from staff. The transition from paper-based records to digital ones also requires significant time and training, which can disrupt existing workflows.

How do high implementation costs impact EHR adoption?

High implementation costs are a significant barrier to EHR adoption, particularly for small practices and rural healthcare providers. These costs include purchasing the system, setting it up, training staff, and ongoing maintenance. Moreover, potential hidden costs, such as those associated with system upgrades or enhancements, can further increase the financial burden.

How does lack of interoperability pose a challenge in EHR adoption?

Lack of interoperability among EHR systems hampers their effectiveness. When EHR systems are not interoperable, they cannot effectively communicate and share data with each other. This can hinder the coordination of patient care across different healthcare providers, limiting one of the main benefits of EHRs.

How do privacy and security concerns affect EHR adoption?

Privacy and security concerns can significantly affect EHR adoption. Digitizing patient information can make it more susceptible to hacking and other cybersecurity threats. Therefore, healthcare providers must ensure robust security measures are in place to protect patient data, which can be an additional challenge.

Why is EHR usability a concern in its adoption?

EHR usability is a significant concern in its adoption. If EHR systems are not user-friendly and intuitive, they can be difficult for staff to use, leading to frustration and decreased productivity. Poor usability can also result in data entry errors, which can impact patient care.

How does staff resistance challenge EHR implementation?

Staff resistance is a common challenge in EHR implementation. Changing from a familiar system to a new one can cause anxiety and resistance among staff. Overcoming this resistance requires communication, training, and support from the management, which can be time-consuming and costly.

How do workflow disruptions affect the adoption of EHR systems?

The transition to EHR systems can disrupt existing workflows, as staff need to learn new systems and possibly change how they perform their tasks. These disruptions can temporarily reduce productivity and affect patient care. Proper planning and gradual implementation can help manage these disruptions.

What are the challenges of data migration in EHR adoption?

Data migration – the process of transferring data from paper records or an old EHR system to a new one – is a significant challenge in EHR adoption. It can be time-consuming, expensive, and risky, as there's a possibility of data loss or errors during the process.

How does the lack of standardization impact EHR implementation?

Lack of standardization across EHR systems can complicate their implementation. Without standardization, each system may use different formats or terminologies, making it difficult to share and interpret data across different systems. This lack of standardization can hinder interoperability and the overall effectiveness of EHRs.

What is the impact of vendor lock-in on EHR adoption?

Vendor lock-in, where healthcare providers are dependent on a single EHR vendor, can impact EHR adoption. If a provider wishes to change their EHR system, they may face challenges in transferring data to the new system, which can be costly and time-consuming.

What are the hardware and software requirements for EHR adoption?

EHR adoption requires robust hardware and software. Providers need computers with sufficient processing power, storage capacity, and reliable internet connectivity. The software must be user-friendly, secure, and capable of integrating with other systems. Meeting these requirements can be challenging for some healthcare providers.

How does training and support affect EHR implementation?

Training and support are critical for successful EHR implementation. Without adequate training, staff may struggle to use the system effectively, leading to decreased productivity and potential errors. Ongoing support is also necessary to address any technical issues and to assist users in adapting to system updates and enhancements.

What role do EHR consultants play in overcoming adoption challenges?

EHR consultants can play a key role in overcoming adoption challenges. They can guide healthcare providers in choosing the right system, managing data migration, and training staff. They can also provide ongoing support and advice to ensure the EHR system is used effectively and complies with regulations.

How can EHR adoption impact the doctor-patient relationship?

While EHR adoption can improve the efficiency of healthcare, it may also impact the doctor-patient relationship. Some critics argue that EHR use can lead to less face-to-face interaction, as doctors may need to spend more time entering data during consultations. However, others suggest that EHRs can enhance the relationship by providing doctors with comprehensive patient information, leading to more personalized care.

How can healthcare organizations manage the change related to EHR adoption?

Healthcare organizations can manage the change related to EHR adoption through a structured change management process. This may include effective communication about the benefits of EHRs, providing sufficient training and support, involving staff in the implementation process, and addressing any concerns or resistance promptly.

What are the post-implementation challenges of EHR systems?

Post-implementation challenges of EHR systems may include ongoing technical issues, the need for system updates and enhancements, the requirement for continuous training and support, and maintaining compliance with evolving regulations. Addressing these challenges requires ongoing resources and commitment from the healthcare provider.

How does EHR adoption impact healthcare quality?

When effectively implemented, EHR adoption can significantly improve healthcare quality. It can enhance coordination of care, reduce medical errors, and improve efficiency. However, if not implemented effectively, EHRs can lead to data entry errors and disrupt workflows, potentially impacting healthcare quality.

What are the potential solutions to overcome EHR adoption challenges?

Potential solutions to overcome EHR adoption challenges include choosing user-friendly systems, providing sufficient training and support, implementing robust security measures, and gradually introducing the system to manage workflow disruptions. Involving staff in the implementation process, hiring EHR consultants, and ensuring compliance with regulations can also help overcome these challenges.


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