Canadian hospitals struggle with EHR data access, workflow

The U.S. is not alone when it comes to electronic health record system challenges: Canadian hospitals also are experiencing data access and workflow efficiency issues, according to a new report from HIMSS Analytics. 

Researchers of the report, "Streamlining Workflows and Access to Patient Data in Canadian Hospitals," conducted one-on-one interviews with 12 IT executives from across Canada who identified several barriers to data access. These barriers  included continued use of paper records, lack of integration, privacy and security concerns, and lack of available workstations. 

"The transition from paper-based records to data housed electronically requires a shift in workflow processes for clinicians who are used to flipping through a paper chart," the report's authors wrote. "In order to maximize access to this data, organizations must address workflow, ensuring that IT is not adding to the time that clinicians need to access patient information, enabling them to maximize time spent on patient care." 

Benefits of improved access to patient data include faster access, an improved clinician experience and better patient care.  The executives interviewed noted that they were trying to improve workflow by limiting the number of vendors used, providing virtual desktops, and offering "single sign on" authentication, which has grown in Canada 80 percent over the past five years. 

Workflow challenges and redesign also has been a concern in the U.S., especially has EHR use is impeded by clinicians who cling to "workarounds" rather than change their workflow. 

To learn more:
- read the report (.pdf)