- Headless EHR opens up limitless possibilities, giving users access to all the functions in an electronic health record externally via an API.
- Headless EHRs allow users to access the system via their preferred interface, whether it is a mobile application or a portal. The user interface takes the front end, thus making it more customizable and easier to channel information via APIs.
- The planning involved in developing a flexible and scalable headless EHR system means that the time-to-market to get it up and running is longer.
In a survey conducted by Deloitte, 70 percent of the respondents stated that their current EHR systems wouldn’t be able to meet future needs. Current electronic healthcare records are made from scratch or built using a platform. There’s little to no scope for changes when it comes to off-the-shelf EHR software, whereas customized EHR systems leave room for growth and match the requirements of healthcare organizations.
Now, there’s a third way to develop an EHR – the headless EHR way. Here, the idea is to create an API-driven EHR, meaning to build an API for every action a user wants to take in an EHR. Let’s dive deep to know what exactly is a headless EHR, along with its pros and cons.
What is Headless EHR?
As mentioned above, a headless EHR is developed with an API perspective. If a user wishes to access data then it’s possible. Headless EHR opens up limitless possibilities, giving users access to all the functions in an electronic health record externally via an API.
Let’s understand it from the headless CMS (Content Management Systems) perspective which is also creating hype in the content world. A headless CMS works from any front-end tool, the body of the content is stored elsewhere. Content can be reused across web portals by disconnecting the back-end from the front-end. In traditional CMS all elements were stored in one category, making it impossible to reuse content pieces, offering less flexibility.
Headless EHR works along a similar concept. The user interface takes the front end, thus making it more customizable and easier to channel information via APIs. Healthcare organizations can make use of a headless EHR to build a front-end that’s aligned with their unique vision. Tasks like e-prescribing, referencing, scheduling, and more can take an entirely different user experience compared to a non-headless EHR.
Pros of Using a Headless EHR
1. Better Customization
A customized EHR solution helps to ameliorate workflows and integrations and offers a range of features. Customization allows healthcare providers can opt for a unique interface that can attract more patients to their clinic. Headless EHR is a perfect platform when it comes to customization because it offers flexibility to create tailored solutions that meet healthcare organization’s requirements.
An off-the-shelf EHR may not offer the same unique features compared with customized software. Building a customized EHR from scratch can be a costly affair, so opting for a headless EHR is a plausible solution.
The upfront costs of building a headless EHR may be higher, but the long-term costs are lower than the off-the-shelf EHR or traditional EHRs. Signing up for a traditional EHR can be risky as you may end up being unhappy with it until the end of the contract period.
Further, there are data export and conversion costs when it comes to traditional EHRs. A headless one is scalable and organizations can start with a small system and expand it further without incurring substantial expenses.
3. Improved Interoperability
Interoperability is one of the challenges faced by the healthcare sector daily. One of the features of headless EHRs is their capability to seamlessly integrate with other healthcare systems. It can link itself with e-prescribing, clinical data exchange, lab orders, patient portals, or any other services. This opens up platforms for providers to enhance care delivery and opt for a front-end that best suits their needs.
4. Enhanced User Experience
When it comes to EHR solutions or any healthcare software, user experience is a crucial aspect because it directly impacts how providers or patients view a system. User experience can make or break a patient experience and satisfaction. It also plays a pivotal role in augmenting patient engagement.
The headless way of developing EHR allows users to access the system via their preferred interface, whether it is a mobile application or a portal. Thereby, making it a convenient and user-friendly platform to access patient data.
5. Flexible and Scalable
With headless EHR there’s nothing to worry about user interface, developers have more control over the flow and presentation of data. This simply means that they can be customized to fit users’ needs without going through the long development process. Headless EHR can also handle surplus data, datasets, and users, assuring that the system runs smoothly, thus making it scalable.
Challenges of Using a Headless EHR
The planning involved in developing a flexible and scalable headless EHR system means that the time-to-market to get it up and running is longer. Off-the-shelf electronic health records give a faster time-to-market with a system that ‘works just fine’ but offers lower scalability and customization as a downside.
Furthermore, some companies may not want to go with the new EHR way and go for a traditional one with a built-in user interface. Speaking about data exchange, not all EHRs support the FHIR standard which is an important component for interoperability. A headless EHR must work well with FHIR standards for seamless data exchange and integration with other healthcare software.
What the Future Holds?
In conclusion, the headless EHR revolution is a game-changer for the entire healthcare technology ecosystem. As healthcare organizations work to deliver patient-centered care while facing growing regulatory and financial pressure, the need for scalable, flexible, and customizable EHR solutions has never been more important.
This type of EHR offers a wide range of benefits – from seamless interoperability to improved workflow productivity, enhanced interoperability, and increased flexibility in customization. Headless EHRs allow for a more modular EHR implementation process that puts functionality and user experience at the forefront.
If you’re looking to implement a EHR system at your healthcare organization, then connect with Arkenea for a discussion. We’ve got over 14 years of experience in the healthcare software development domain and we believe in delivering world-class products that matches with industry standards.