Why Your Facility Needs Updated Browsers

mTuitive OpNote is a web-based operative report - so the issue of web browsers is of great importance to us. Those browsers that you use to wander the Internet - using Facebook, buying items on Amazon, even reading these words right now - are programs that are constantly updated by their developers. Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, Internet Explorer, Opera, Apple Safari; their names and icons may just mean "Internet" to you - but they are important pieces of software that need to be kept up to date.

Many times when we're speaking with ASCs, hospitals or other facilities that wish to use OpNote, we find out that these places are using Internet Explorer (IE) 6 or 7. It then becomes an issue where we have to start begging them to upgrade their browsers. So while it is definitely and patently in our product's best interest that all facilities use the latest versions, I'd like to discuss why it's in the best interest of your facility, your doctors and your patients to use the most updated browser.

Why are so many facilities using outdated web browsers in the first place?

The problem tends to be a mixture of bureaucratic lethargy - the long slow Bataan march of death to affect change in a large organization like a hospital or a health partnership - and technological necessity.

The maddening bureaucracy of medical facilities means even something as easy as "update all web browsers" becomes an issue for committees to discuss, action items to be voted upon, and authorized personnel to execute in a broad rollout strategy. Something that takes maybe 15 minutes at most to do, per computer, now necessitates weeks of planning and coordination.

Meanwhile, many of the IT programs installed (or built) at hospitals or ASCs are built for stability, reliability and security. They are not intended to be flexible or easy to update or upgrade. So if new Document Manager Program X or Homegrown Software Y is installed, it will probably only work with whatever was currently on it at the time, meaning that if you want to update to IE9 or install Firefox or Chrome - that might cause a problem. And by the time IT developers have tweaked this product, newer web browsers will already be out. Everyone is running as fast as they can just to lag behind.

Now we know why facilities don't, won't or can't update. But, and here's the most important question, why should you care?

You should care because the security of your information, and your patients' information, is at risk. You should care because the efficiency of your workflow is being undermined and resulting in taking more time to do simple tasks. You should care because the speed of delivering this information, the speed to do these tasks, will directly impact the time and quality of the care you are providing to your patients.

Old browsers lack many technological updates and abilities in today's versions. Lines of code are absent in old browsers; but in those lines of letters and numbers lie many hours of developers working to make the browser go faster, be smarter, respond correctly to commands. Without these updated lines of codes, sometimes without whole programs, browsers remain sluggish and unable to fulfill crucial tasks needed to get your work done in a timely fashion.

When you update web browsers, you are also getting an updated library of security measures to protect your computer and its information. Hackers tend to be a few steps ahead of developers, exposing new vulnerabilities and gaps in security; so when they are faced with old software and outdated security precautions - it's much easier for them to take advantage. With new updates, you get the latest security changes as well as the most recent list of known viruses and types of attacks. Without these, your entire organization is vulnerable - and so is your patients' data.

What makes this even more maddening is that Microsoft, makers of Internet Explorer, are trying to phase out IE6 and 7. IE6 will stop receiving any updates or any support soon - and IE7 is starting on that path to exile as well. In fact, developers are eagerly anticipating IE6's abandonment. They are gleefully tracking its plummeting number of users on sites and forums. Firefox, Safari and Chrome tend to automatically update - which means that they also automatically remove the old versions. The makers of these programs are glad you're using them - but would prefer you use the latest ones, to improve not only your experience but so that users don't think the negative aspects of their earlier versions persist.

It's not hard to update or install these browsers. It tends to be a click of a mouse and running a simple program. Less than 30 minutes to ensure your data is protected and your information is moving as fast as you are. There are other reasons - newer browsers have more programs, greater abilities, and can perform better tasks faster. But efficiency, speed and security of your information and your work are the most important. Your time is too valuable to waste and your work is too important to jeopardize. Make sure your facility agrees and is using updated web browsers.