Doctors Face Challenges with Shared Digital Medical Records

Some doctors, including Dr. Raghuvir, an ear, nose, and throat doctor, is not impressed with the latest digital medical data storing technologies. In fact, ever since he had one installed a few years ago in his Ahoskie, North Carolina private practice, he has encountered many notable challenges. Essentially, this data system cannot share and distribute medical records with the local medical center. However, the two companies that are purportedly to blame deny any accountability whatsoever.

Many doctors throughout the United States have been plagued with this very issue. They have invested a considerable sum of money in these electronic file systems like those by NextGen Healthcare with the hope of flexibly sharing patient records with other hospitals, only to realize that this is not even a latent possibility.

Going Digital

Many hospitals are now desperately scurrying to install an electronic file storing system into their hospitals. Clinics and hospitals that refuse to do so may face penalties down the line. In the meantime, a Defense Department contract hovers in the balance, and electronic systems companies are competing fiercely for this enviable opportunity. Whoever receives the contract must use record-sharing technology. This contract may promote the installation of electronic file systems throughout many hospitals and clinics.

The Issue of Sharing Medical Records

technology-problemsCurrently, a mere 14% of hospitals and clinics have the ability to share patient information, even though most hospitals are equipped with electronic technologies. At UnityPoint Health at St. Luke’s Hospital in Sioux City, Iowa, physicians cannot currently share information regarding their patients’ records, even though an Epic System was installed.

Generally speaking, installing and sharing the interconnectivity feature is very expensive. While large medical organizations may be able to accommodate these costs, smaller medical organizations may find this particularly difficult. Hence, small hospitals and clinics are struggling to incorporate this sharing feature in their electronic databases. In some cases, as in the case of the Epic System, maintenance requires significant fees. However, Epic is not the only organization charging these exorbitant fees.

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Regulators and Electronic Data Companies

While criticisms have been leveled against Epic, they have reportedly dismissed these claims, noting their vendors share medical data more readily than any other leading company out there. Those responsible for making regulations indicate that this sharing feature is a critical priority, and doctors continue to complain that they cannot transmit patient records. However, individuals involved in these leading companies have even criticized the regulators, whom should have created a policy framework for interoperability.