Running outdated software? Upgrade your EHR now to boost security
It’s annoying, isn’t it? That little notification that pops up on your phone every day to remind you it’s time for a software update. If you always hit “remind me later” and put it off for as long as possible, you’re not alone. In many cases, people do this simply because they’re busy.
Healthcare providers often delay electronic health record (EHR) system updates for the same reason, but when it comes to EHR security, delayed updates are a risky bet that's not worth taking.
The process doesn’t have to be painful or disrupt daily operations. Regular updates keep practices in compliance and patient data secure, while giving providers access to new features that help them manage their workflows and provide quality patient care. Read on to learn more about how regular system updates can lead to lower risk with bigger rewards.
The study utilized an investment simulation in which participants could make a daily choice: invest their “points” (and potentially gain more) or spend points on security updates. People didn’t want to spend their points on security, the study revealed, despite the fact the updates protected them against abstract, unpredictable threats that would cost more in the long run.
Healthcare data breaches can’t be predicted either, but those losses aren’t payable in imaginary points. In its 2021 Cost of a Data Breach report, IBM reported that the average healthcare data breach costs $9.2 million and takes 287 days to detect and contain.
Even absent a major breach, delaying updates is costly. Labor costs can add up when you need support for outdated software, and when you’re several updates behind, getting up-to-date really can be disruptive. Older versions can also lead to less efficient workflows and decreased interoperability.
Updates protect your investment
Good EHRs are an investment in the health of your practice, and regular updates and training on new features and compliance matters can maximize your returns. But the costs associated with data breaches, compliance issues, and inefficiency go squarely in the loss column.
Why is cybersecurity important in healthcare? Because when breaches do occur, providers aren’t the only ones who pay. IBM reported that 80% of data breaches across all industries result in the exposure of clients’ personally identifiable information, and medical records contain more personal information than almost anything else.
Even without a data breach, the costs of outdated EHR software can add up quickly. Regular updates are designed to fix bugs that can slow down workflow and decrease efficiency. Keeping EHRs current can also prevent unpleasant (and potentially expensive) surprises from materializing during audits.
Updates can be quick and easy
Providers delay updates for the same reason lots of people hit “remind me later” on their phones — they don’t want to deal with the hassle and the system downtime. But with cloud-based systems, updates are quick, easy, and won’t disrupt daily operations.
Staff proficiency and comfort with technology, including the EHR, is an important factor in the health of any practice. Providers who invest in high-quality training and vendor support can make it easier for staff to adjust to new features and workflow changes. Training also decreases the likelihood that staff will inadvertently misuse software.
Keeping your EHR updated is critical as the healthcare industry continues to work toward interoperability. Updated, interoperable EHR systems allow providers to exchange data more easily with other providers and patients. For independent practices, up-to-date systems and interoperability are crucial tools to provide high-quality, efficient care.
Don’t delay …
Putting off EHR updates is an easy short-term choice, but the potential long-term consequences for EHR security are significant. Missed software updates leave EHR systems vulnerable to security breaches and can incur other costs such as compliance issues and decreased workflow efficiency.
Regular updates decrease risk and protect provider investment. Remember, updates don’t have to be a hassle — cloud-based EHR updates are quick with no downtime.