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Cloud-based EMR Concerns Abound After Cerner Outage
Though healthcare organizations are increasingly opting for cloud-based EMR software systems due to cost and maintenance concerns, a six-hour network outage at Cerner last month has many physicians and healthcare IT consultants thinking twice about cloud-based services.
The outage, which was attributed to a human error and affected all of the company’s clients whose databases are hosted remotely on Cerner servers, lasted up to six hours at some hospitals and required physicians and nursing staff to revert to paper charting.
Although Cerner has downtime procedures in place to ensure patient safety (and visit notes can be captured accurately on paper in the event of system downtime), some physicians say that not being able to access past patient visits, medications and other pertinent health data is a serious problem and could inadvertently affect patient care.
In hospitals, for example, when data stored in the EMR before an outage is not available to physicians on later shifts, it creates a gap in care. Not having access to patient data could also make physicians more inclined to order duplicate tests, leading to higher care costs.
Users affected by the Cerner outage were critical of how long the outage lasted and wondered why there wasn’t a backup system in place. The fact is most EMR software vendors do have backup systems that kick in during a server outage. However, as with any IT application, there is always the possibility for error. What many EMR critics are failing to take into account is that human errors occur; yet, outages such as the Cerner one are rare.
Physicians and healthcare IT consultants looking into remotely-hosted EMRs shouldn’t give up on the cloud just yet, as isolated events don’t take away from the fact that cloud-based EMR systems are a secure and budget-friendly software solution for medical professionals.