Why Over-Customizing Your EHR is a Danger

In the digital age of healthcare, EHRs have become widespread in the industry and brought a necessary change to the error-prone ways of pen and paper. Although EHRs have streamlined workflows, improved patient care, and enhanced data accessibility, they don’t come without their own pitfalls. As healthcare providers strive to tailor these systems to their specific needs, a significant risk has emerged in the unintended consequences of customization.

Customization of EHRs involves tailoring the software to fit the unique workflows and preferences of healthcare organizations. A common example is the creation of custom templates that might be used by organizations to place orders or procedures more efficiently and streamline documentation. While these decisions to customize can enhance the user experience, they must be vetted by all stakeholders and the risks must be understood when doing so.

So, what are some of the risks in customizing your EHR?

Interoperability Challenges: Customizing EHRs can impede interoperability, making it difficult to exchange patient information seamlessly with other healthcare providers and systems.

Upgrade Complications: Customized EHRs often face significant challenges during system upgrades. Customizations will likely increase the chance that an upgrade might “break” something in your workflow.

Vendor Lock-In: Heavy customization can create a dependency on specific vendors, making it difficult to transition to alternative systems in the future. This vendor lock-in limits flexibility and can result in increased costs and reduced innovation opportunities.

User Training Burden: Customizations introduce complexity and variability into the EHR system, requiring extensive training for new users and ongoing education to adapt to changes. This training burden can lead to user frustration, resistance to adoption, and errors resulting from unfamiliarity with customized workflows.

Support Issues: Customizing your EHR means that you have created a “one-of-a-kind” system that is much less scalable for support.

While customization can offer benefits in workflow optimization and user satisfaction, it is essential for healthcare organizations to approach it cautiously and intelligently. Instead of customizing your EHR, think of it as personalizing your EHR.

Whenever feasible, try to standardize workflows and templates to promote consistency and reserve true customization only when it is required. It is important to collaborate with your EHR provider and get an understanding of the impact these decisions will have on taking future releases.

Working with Oracle Cerner Millennium shops for over 25 years, we have seen firsthand how over-customizing your EHR can lead to management nightmares. Not only are code upgrades lengthier and more time-intensive, but the ability to outsource support becomes much more difficult.

What does Softek® do?

Softek’s mission is to help hospital systems maximize their investment in Oracle Cerner Millennium®. We do this by providing innovative software solutions and consulting services that can achieve more together than either can alone.

At Softek, our team of innovators and software developers brings expertise beyond the ordinary to every client. Our experts are involved with Oracle Cerner Millennium® hospitals throughout the country, consulting clients so they can optimize system performance and revenue integrity.

Softek delivers a full suite of consulting services and software solutions to assess and optimize EMR system performance, including revenue cycle integrity and patient accounting.

Softek was awarded 2021 Best in KLAS for Revenue Cycle Optimization.

Let’s talk about how you can get the most out of your Oracle Cerner Millennium® system.