EHR Challenges, Problems, and Issues

What to watch out for when looking for new case management software for your agency.

Implementing a new EHR or case management system can be transformative for your agency, but transitioning to new software is a major project that can create its own challenges and problems. Your organization can’t afford to lose valuable time working through trials and errors while you and your staff become familiar with the new software. 

Having overseen hundreds of these projects, we know what the most common issues are and how to overcome them. As you think about implementing better software that will enable your agency rather than inhibit it, use this information as a guide to avoid pitfalls and achieve success with your new reporting system.

Table of Contents


Adoption and Buy-In Challenges

Before your agency implements any sort of EHR software, you’ll need to find the right system and get everyone in your organization on board with doing so. This can be one of the biggest EHR challenges to overcome. Staff members often resist changing the system they currently use for reporting client health data. Even if your agency already uses an EHR but is considering a switch to something that better meets the needs of your organization, it can be difficult to get buy-in across the organization.

These are the EHR adoption challenges that come with using a new reporting system and getting everyone on board throughout the organization:

Choosing a System

Choosing the right EHR system for your organization can be challenging because you need to ensure the new system makes your reporting process run smoothly and enhances the quality of care your team provides. Employees need to be able to use the system efficiently and without errors, which can take time. With the numerous reporting systems out there, it’s important to find one that improves how your agency reports information regarding clients.

Look into all EHR options available before you select the one you want to implement. Doing the proper research can eliminate costly errors that might delay the implementation of EHR software for your organization.

Transitioning Records

Transitioning the health records that are already in your agency’s system is an EHR challenge that all health service providers deal with when they begin to use or switch their case management system. Moving current records to the new system takes time and presents the risk of losing or misplacing data. Employees won’t be familiar with the new system right away, which means they may enter information improperly or fail to input data at all.

Provide plenty of time for transitioning current records to a new system. Understand that there will be errors and plan for how to handle them when they occur.

Resisting Change

Managing the change from the current system to something completely new is a tough job, and it can be hard to find the right team to take it on. A lot goes into implementing a whole new EHR software that changes the process your agency uses to keep track of health records. How you go about making the switch will depend on your organization and its goal, but having the right team in place before you begin can help make the process less stressful for everyone involved.

Meeting with your employees to discuss the coming changes and selecting the right change management team can help everyone ease into the new system. Make sure the change management team understands that they’ll need to plan the steps of the changeover process and implement them in each department. Although it takes time to get a good EHR system up and running, your agency’s employees should appreciate the end result. 

EHR Usability Issues

A system that isn’t user-friendly won’t go over well in any organization, and this may be even more so with an EHR. Entering client health information into EHR software is something your staff will need to do many times each day. If they struggle with the task, they’ll resist doing it or they may leave out important information because it’s difficult to input. Here are some EHR usability issues you may encounter when implementing a new tracking system:

Poorly Designed Software

Not all EHR software is created equally, and you’ll find that some are poorly designed. Because the software is created by engineers and software programmers, it might not be right for an agency that provides health and human services to the community. Even though the designers intend for the software to be used in this environment, they don’t necessarily have experience working in this field and, therefore, don’t understand the needs of organizations that operate in this realm. 

Find out if organizations that provide similar services to yours use the software you want to implement. You can read their reviews or ask them directly about the pros and cons it offers.


Software Doesn’t Meet Agency Needs

Human services organizations provide a wide variety of services and programs, and each one is unique in how it handles its reporting and tracking. That’s why choosing case management software that meets the needs of the agency is vital. If the program has too many unnecessary functions or lacks those that are beneficial, it can cause usability issues. Some important statistics may be missed while others become the focus when they’re not intended to be. This can disrupt which services an organization provides or how it handles certain issues that clients face.

Understanding the tracking and reporting needs of your agency can ensure you choose software that provides the functionality that will help make your services more efficient and effective. Learn everything you can about the information your organization uses and tracks so that the software you implement meets the needs of your staff and your clients.

Bad UX for Employees

The user experience for employees who regularly record client data isn’t going to be great with all software. Becoming familiar with the new system when it’s first introduced will be a challenge. Employees who feel the software provides a bad UX will resent having to use it daily and may be reluctant to learn how to work with it regularly. They won’t understand how to best incorporate it into their reporting habits, which means that some information may not make it into the system. EHR usability issues for employees are something to avoid.

It’s important that your staff can provide input about how the software works and share their concerns with management teams. This can help ensure the system is user-friendly and that everyone knows how it works so they can use it effectively.

Impact on Staff

Although some employees may feel their jobs are threatened when your organization switches to an EHR, this isn’t the case. Despite the fact that case management software can streamline workflows and improve productivity, it doesn’t have to eliminate any roles in your organization. Of course, making a big change is never easy, and it can actually create a slowdown in workflow and cause undue stress for employees. So one of the big EHR challenges to overcome is limiting the negative impact a system change could have on those working for your agency.

These are some EHR issues your organization might experience that may negatively impact your staff:

Job Security Fears

Implementing EHR software can cause some employees to feel threatened and less secure in their roles. They may believe that their job will no longer be needed because the software will do some of the tasks they’re used to performing. However, your agency’s employees will find that with an EHR, they can improve their level of service. This is because they’ll have immediate access to client records, allowing them to get a clear picture of all treatments and diagnoses from all physicians and health care professionals. With this information, they can treat the complete individual.

Difficulty Completing Tasks

Doing something new is a challenge in any role, and your staff may have concerns that an EHR will be more work for them to complete. At first, this may be the case, as it takes time to learn the new system and become efficient at using it. If you get everyone involved right away and take their concerns, ideas, and recommendations into consideration when changing to a new case management system, your staff will understand why it’s important and how it will improve the quality of care they provide.

Over time, an EHR should make everyone’s jobs easier, more efficient, and more productive. But be prepared to deal with EHR problems as they arise and to walk your staff through the new health services software until they’re comfortable using it.

Little or No Technical Knowledge

If you have staff members who feel they aren’t good with technology, they may believe that doing anything related to using computers and software will ultimately make their job harder, not easier. Your staff may feel that their computer skills aren’t where they need to be to properly use the new system. The purpose of using an EHR is to become more efficient, and it may take those who lack computer knowledge and skills longer to become adept at using it. This is why having user-friendly software is so important.

Making the change to EHR software isn’t instantaneous, and every employee will need help learning how to use the new reporting system. When your less tech-savvy employees understand everyone will learn the system together, they may feel better about taking on any EHR problems they encounter.

Funding and Revenue Challenges

The initial cost of purchasing the software, installing it, training staff to use it, and any other fees associated with the process can all add up quickly. There may also be delays in billing as employees learn how to use the new software, causing some issues with revenue. So funding and revenue are both EHR challenges that your organization will likely deal with when you decide to implement or transition to a new EHR software. Consider these EHR problems that could affect your organization’s funding and revenue:

Long-Term Funding

Your agency will want to secure a funding source that has the means to finance the EHR software changeover from start to finish or make sure that enough funds are in the budget to see the project through to completion. This means you’ll need to find a vendor that will be upfront with you about the costs of implementing an EHR system. 

If you choose a company that isn’t honest about the cost, your organization could end up running out of funds before the process is complete, leaving your organization vulnerable. You may have to get additional funds mid-process, which could delay the full implementation of the new system.

Delays in Billing

In addition, your revenue could be affected, especially if billing is part of the change. As you transfer from one software to another, you may experience delays in billing, which could result in a loss of income temporarily. Employees need time to adjust to the new billing process. They might miss things or get confused by the new system, causing some revenue losses. It’s important to consider all funding and revenue issues that could arise when budgeting for EHR software for your agency. If possible, try to overestimate the cost so that you have the funds you need.


Reporting and Analytics Issues

When choosing software for your organization, you’ll want to consider what type of reporting and analytics you expect it to perform. If you choose software that won’t meet your organization’s needs, you could be setting yourself up for failure. Here are the EHR problems and issues you need to think about with the reporting and analytics of the system:

Meeting Organization Needs

Having analytics about the services and clients your organization works with can significantly impact the quality of service you’re able to provide to the community. At first, your employees may have difficulties entering information into the system, which will affect the analytics you’re seeing. The initial reports may be flawed or lack the data you want them to provide. It’s important that everyone at your agency understands what information they need to input and how to do so to meet the agency’s needs.

Uncovering Problems

Through using the new system, you may discover EHR issues that weren’t previously apparent. Perhaps client birthdates weren’t being put into the system correctly or medications didn’t get reported properly. Whatever the case, your organization may have a whole new set of problems to deal with after looking at the analytics an EHR provides. In the long run, an EHR can help your organization improve, but it can be a hassle to work out the details in the beginning.

Passing Audits

Noncompliance with government regulations is the cause of many health and human service organization audits. When the staff at your agency isn’t using an EHR system properly, it can trigger an audit. This can be a stressful and expensive process. If information isn’t being tracked or secured according to government standards and regulations, your organization could be faced with fines or worse. With an EHR that’s easy to use, your agency will have the information it needs to pass an audit if one comes up.

Data Security and Compliance Problems

Your organization is required by federal law to keep all health records that it maintains secure and private. Having an EHR system that’s available to authorized personnel online makes it vulnerable to data breaches, such as ransomware attacks and cyber hacks. Because data is digital, an organization may be uneasy about client information that’s in the cloud. There can be issues with compliance when changing the system your agency uses to report health data as well. Think about these aspects of data security and compliance that might cause issues:

Securing Data

With health information that’s online or in the cloud, there’s a risk of hackers getting access to it. Although you’ll likely choose a reporting system with security features, it’s necessary that for health data, an EHR has extra security measures in place. This may require the need for additional steps when entering data into the system, which could make it take longer for employees to process information about clients.

Complying With Regulations

Implementing a new reporting method could mean that you’re organization is temporarily out of compliance with some regulations as your staff learns how to use the new system. They may not understand exactly how to include certain details or some information may be overlooked as everyone learns the aspects of the EHR software you put in place. Learning as much as possible about the software before implementation can help you avoid noncompliance issues.

Maintaining Client Confidence

Clients may question the use of an EHR that puts their private data in the cloud, as they’re worried about the accessibility of their medical records because they’re available online. Your agency needs to be sure that it can keep client data secure in order to maintain your client’s confidence. By using reputable software, you can be confident in the security of your client’s health data, which you’ll be able to pass on to them.

Support and Training Dilemmas

The initial rollout of a new health reporting system means your organization has to provide support and training to staff to ensure they can use the software properly and effectively. This is one of the biggest EHR challenges because it disrupts normal workflows and can also add to the cost of implementing a new program. These are the main EHR problems when it comes to staff support and training:

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Getting Support From Vendors

Getting the support you need from the vendor that provides the EHR software is a challenge you may face. Not all vendors are able to provide the support an organization needs to get the entire case management system running as it should. The whole process takes time, often several months, so you’ll need a vendor that’s willing to stick with you throughout implementation if you want it to be successful. Your staff will inevitably encounter issues and problems that they aren’t sure how to resolve. 

If your vendor isn’t willing to answer questions as they arise, your staff may struggle to get the system running smoothly. They’ll find their job getting more stressful instead of easier. Once your staff is trained on the system, your agency won’t need as much assistance. However, problems may still arise, so choose a software vendor that can help you beyond the training and implementation process.

Providing Training for Staff

One vital component to avoiding EHR challenges when switching to using software for client data is to provide the proper training to everyone involved. Organizing training sessions can temporarily reduce productivity, making it seem less efficient in the beginning. When your staff is new to using an EHR, they may make more mistakes or take longer to locate important information regarding clients. Before you implement the software agency-wide, consider starting with a single program or a smaller section of the organization. This will give you an idea of what to expect when you transition across the entire agency.

"We made it a priority to communicate with staff how important it was to make this transition, focusing on the ways the new system would ease everyone’s day-to-day work and move the organization forward in the long term."
Jane Pirsig
Executive Director,
Aurora Family Service

Potential Issues with Software Integrations

It’s probably safe to say that your organization has some sort of case management system in place currently. But if you’re looking to switch to an EHR software that will ultimately make your agency run more efficiently, then you need to choose one that your current system is capable of handling. If you select software that doesn’t integrate with your current internal or external systems, you may find you have to spend additional funds to upgrade the systems or scrap the program implementation before it’s complete, which could cost your organization a lot of money and time.

Integrating With Internal Systems

You may not experience any glitches or difficulties with your internal system now when it comes to reporting the health data of clients. However, when you switch to an entirely new system, there are bound to be hangups that you aren’t expecting. For example, the speed of your computers may not match the speed required by the new software, as it contains more data. This could mean you need new computers or new hardware for the ones you have.

Integrating With External Systems

If the internet signal is weak or intermittent at your agency, it could disrupt the EHR system and create errors and unintended glitches when migrating data from the old system to the new system. You could lose valuable data or cause old data to populate when new data should be visible. These EHR challenges are important to be aware of if you expect the change in your agency’s system to go smoothly and successfully. 

Put a plan in place before you start the integration process. Knowing your current system’s strengths and weaknesses can help you understand what your agency needs. Discuss your system’s capabilities with the vendor to see if their software can integrate with what you have right now.

Implementing an EHR system comes with its challenges, problems, and issues, but overall, it can have many benefits for your agency. To overcome EHR challenges, it’s important to understand the goals and needs of your organization. When you have the right system in place, over time, it will help your organization keep track of vital information and allow you to analyze data to provide insight into how you can improve your services and increase your revenue.

If you are searching for new software, our team can offer an honest opinion on the right EHR for your agency and your programs, given your unique needs.