Governments and technology advocates have been urging physicians to adopt electronic health record (EHR) systems for years, but uptake remains slow in the face of medical software compliance, privacy and compatibility issues. An effort by the Nova Scotia government to get doctors in the province to adopt an expensive EHR system has seen some success, but medical professionals are pushing back in frustration following a software bug that has made performance unreliable.
Doctors Nova Scotia, an organization representing the province's physicians, is calling for a fix to a $4 million EHR system used by hundreds of family doctors, Canada's CBC News reported. The web-based software in question, Nightingale Informatix, has been helpful to doctors when functioning correctly, but glitches have made performance slow and unreliable, according to Nova Scotia physicians. Doctors have been hindered in their efforts to access records, leading to widespread frustration.
Doctors are also upset by the system's lack of portability in transferring records between clinics, noting that they feel misled, CBC News reported. The poor performance is a blow to the Nova Scotia government's efforts to spur adoption, which include a $10,000 incentive to adopt the product. Nightingale told CBC News that it is examining several potential causes for poor performance and plans to issue an update.
"We're trying to upgrade that system so that those clinicians that are using the Nightingale system in their practice don't seen any disruption or slowdowns," said Nova Scotia Health and Wellness Minister Dave Wilson, according to CBC News.
Increasing confidence in medical software
This issue comes on the heels of a December report that open source EHR platform OpenEMR was riddled with hundreds of vulnerabilities and that software security was a major issue in the medical sector. With such concerns lingering, EHR adoption has been low despite strong encouragement and government incentives. A recent study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that just 12.2 percent of eligible U.S. physicians had implemented EHR systems on a meaningful level.
As vendors look to increase confidence in medical software tools such as EHR systems, strengthening both the functionality and security of their programs is likely to be an essential step. Using tools such as source code analysis software, medical application developers can catch bugs, eliminate errors and minimize the potential for costly errors and reputation damage.
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