Move On: Why Are Legacy EHR Systems So Prevalent in Healthcare?

legacy ehr

The use of legacy EHR systems in within the healthcare industry is a common challenge faced by many providers. According to a 2021 HIMSS survey, 73% of healthcare provider organizations have legacy information systems. These systems are outdated, difficult to maintain, and may not be compatible with newer technologies. They are typically costly to maintain and a pain to keep up. 

However, despite their challenges, many healthcare provider organizations continue to rely on legacy systems. There are several reasons for this, including: 

  1. Cost: Replacing legacy systems can be costly, requiring significant investment in new software and hardware. For some healthcare organizations, the cost of replacing legacy systems may be too high to justify the investment. 
  1. Customization: Many legacy systems have been customized to meet the specific needs of a healthcare organization. Replacing these systems with newer, off-the-shelf solutions may not provide the same level of customization. 
  1. Integration: Legacy EHR systems may be tightly integrated with other systems used by the healthcare organization, making it difficult to replace them without disrupting the entire workflow. 
  1. Complacency: Healthcare professionals may have been using these systems for years or even decades, becoming familiar with their functionalities and processes. As a result, they may be resistant to change and hesitant to learn and adopt new technologies or systems. 

So, what can healthcare provider organizations do to overcome the challenges of using legacy information systems? 

  1. Evaluate the cost vs. benefits: Evaluate the cost of maintaining the legacy system versus the benefits it provides to the organization. If the cost of maintaining the system is too high or the benefits are minimal, it may be time to consider retiring the legacy system. 
  1. Prioritize system replacement: Review, analyze, and prioritize replacing the legacy systems that have the highest maintenance costs or the ones that pose the biggest security risks. 
  1. Explore integration options: Explore integration options to connect legacy systems with newer technologies. This may involve investing in middleware or other integration solutions that can bridge the gap between legacy and newer systems. 
  1. Train staff: Invest in staff training to ensure that employees are proficient in using legacy systems. This can help to improve productivity and reduce the risk of errors. 

In conclusion, while legacy information systems pose significant challenges for healthcare provider organizations, there are ways to mitigate their impact. By evaluating the cost vs. benefits, prioritizing system replacement, exploring integration options, and investing in staff training, healthcare provider organizations can continue to leverage the benefits of legacy systems while minimizing their drawbacks.