Dangers of Legacy Solutions to Health Information Management

Dangers of Legacy Solutions to Health Information Management

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Legacy systems can be a thorn in the side of health Information Management(HIM) professionals. Dated systems may still function but can be a huge liability when it comes to security and connectivity.

Healthcare organizations are often faced with strict budgets making adopting new tools difficult. Many advanced HIM infrastructure solutions will give organizations a higher ROI over time, but fronting the cost to implement them can be difficult.

Compliance also factors into this attitude. HIM administrators know that the machines in place are already compliant. Taking these legacy machines out and replacing them requires certification that takes time and resources.

Changing HIM systems may also take a toll on staff. Many advanced tools and machines, like cloud or virtualization for example, function very differently than legacy tools and machines.


“Changing applications, upgrading features, and upgrading functionality takes time.”

Healthcare organizations are trying to bite the whole apple instead of breaking down upgrades into smaller, projects that are easier to digest.

They tend to see the whole technology system as one big heartbeat. They think, ‘if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it and don’t break it’. There is tremendous pressure on HIM departments when they’re faced with tools they know are underperforming because they’re old and the risk involved with installing new systems.

Most HIM staff worry about changing something just for the sake of changing it. When you really get down into the situation, their worry is more about the impact and the systems going down than actually breaking.

Healthcare organizations that don’t update patches and decide to move on to more advanced systems can be their own worst enemy. For example, if a healthcare organization moving to a new data archiving and communication system (DACS) did not perform the proper maintenance and patches through the lifecycle of their legacy DACS, they can end up breaking the system when they finally do go to upgrade.

Healthcare organizations owe it to their HIM staff, end users, and patients to try and provide the best digital tools. Coming up with a plan to replace legacy systems with more advanced ones will allow organizations to become more advanced and offer a better clinician and patient experience.


This may require additional training for HIM staff or new staff with specific experience to manage and monitor new systems.

HIM experts in the healthcare space can be expensive to hire because they are in high demand. This added expense can be hard to justify especially when there isn’t anything technically wrong with the current system.

These points may seem like enough justification to leave legacy systems in place, but it can cause serious security vulnerabilities. Waiting until a system is broken before fixing it puts patient data at risk.

This reactive approach compromises data, interrupts workflow, and is potentially avoidable.

A lot of the time, “fixing” legacy solutions results in Band-Aid repairs and workarounds that don’t fully address the problem. One of the biggest challenges organizations face is identifying legacy systems that are vulnerable and taking the steps to replace those systems before they cause damage.

Healthcare organizations should take a proactive approach rather than wait for something to go wrong.

While end users may not immediately realize when upgrades are made, they will notice when something goes wrong because of a system failure. When end users are unable to do their jobs because a legacy system failed, it hurts the provider organization as a business and can potentially harm patients.

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