There is no doubt, data runs the world — and the healthcare sector is no exception. Doctors, clinicians, and nurses rely on patients’ health data to deliver better care. As such, if patient information is not shared effectively across different departments, enhanced treatment can be impaired.
To facilitate the accurate diagnosis of disease, practices must ensure that data is collected, stored, managed, and shared seamlessly across different practitioners. This is where electronic health records or EHR software comes into play.
EHR systems enable healthcare providers to collect and store patient information digitally. Besides, they make the information easily accessible to authorized users across the health entity, whenever needed. That’s not all, EHR platforms automate administrative tasks and simplify the billing process.
That said, if you’re new to EHR systems, it can be pretty hard to find an ideally perfect solution for your healthcare facility. That’s why in this article, we’ll discuss the basics of EHR software. We’ll give you the vital details from its definition, features, and benefits. We’ve also gone a step further to suggest some of the best EHR solutions you can implement to reap the said benefits.
What Is EHR Software?
EHR software is a computer system designed to help medical professionals automate clinical workflows and manage medical records. In essence, an EHR solution makes it easy for healthcare providers to create digital records for new patients. In other words, it is a centrally-accessible system that gives care providers access to their patients’ medical information.
The records include details, such as family history, diagnosis and treatment, allergies, lab tests, prescription medication, billing information, and more. Interestingly, EHR solutions enable care providers to update these records with each patient encounter.
List Of Best EHR Software
By now, you know what EHR software is, its features, and the different types of EHR software. In this section, we’ll discuss some of the leading EHR software on the market.
- EpicCare: A powerful healthcare solution designed for hospitals, clinics, medical organizations, independent practices, and specialty groups. Billed as a fast and efficient ambulatory EHR, this solution enables healthcare providers to share medical records and deliver excellent service to their patients. The platform offers a set of powerful features that include lab integration, e-prescription, billing management, appointment management, scheduling, voice recognition, and lab integration. EpicCare pricing is not available to the public. Contact the vendor for a comprehensive price quote.
- AdvancedMD: A complete EMR system designed with independent practices in mind. The solution provides powerful tools, such as patient cards, patient rooming, practice management, telemedicine, e-prescribing, patient messaging, immunization and CQM reporting, and more. The features work in unison to empower healthcare providers to manage every aspect of their practice from a centralized system. The vendor doesn’t reveal the pricing for software bundles to the public. Contact the vendor for a comprehensive price quote.
- CERNER: This tool is primarily designed to cater to the needs of clinicians in ambulatory facilities and hospitals. The platform’s key value proposition lies in its stellar patient experience, robust clinical documentation tools, and seamless integration with revenue cycle services and solutions. Built for cloud-based and on-premise deployments, CERNER makes it easy for users to fashion a multi-entity electronic medical record system. CERNER’s pricing isn’t publicly available, contact the vendor for complete pricing information.
- Kareo: An easy and integrated EMR platform built to enable independent practices to improve operational efficiency. The cloud-based solution provides intuitive tools, such as simple charting, dashboard, e-prescribing, patient portal, electronic superbills, secure messaging, and e-labs. Primarily, Kareo provides robust tools that enable staff to upload documents, manage patients, and send secure messages. Ultimately, the platform aims to help healthcare providers to maximize staff productivity and deliver an exceptional experience. Unfortunately, Kareo’s pricing is not publicly available. Contact the vendor for a comprehensive price quote.
- CENTRICITY: A flexible yet powerful EMR software built for community health centers, independent practices, retail clinics, and multispecialty groups. The platform provides innovative solutions for ambulatory, workforce management, revenue cycle management, and advanced payer connectivity. Besides, the solution provides reliable patient engagement and population health tools. GE CENTRICITY’s pricing is not publicly available. Contact the vendor for a comprehensive price quote.
- Athenahealth: An intuitively designed, cloud-based EHR system designed to coordinate care, simplify documentation, and expedite attestation. Primarily, the solution enables care providers to organize patient visits and document more accurately, thus, setting their practice for long-term success. With its integrated mobile app and intuitive workflows, the system saves time, allowing providers to focus on delivering quality care. Some of the notable Athenahealth features include electronic health record medical billing, care coordination, mobile capabilities, patient engagement, and medical order transmission. Athenahealth offers quote-based pricing to suit the needs of all practices, small and large. Contact the vendor to get a tailored quote for your practice.
- eClinicalWorks: A cloud-based ambulatory EHR and revenue cycle management software designed to transform healthcare through fast and accurate documentation. The system works particularly well for hospitals, surgical centers, mobile clinics, and specialties of different sizes. It blends innovative tools for efficient patient engagement and population health. With eClinicalWork’s cycles of care, providers can better understand their patients and deliver services aimed at effective treatment. Some of its notable features include online presence, care planning, previsit planning, empanelment, analytics, and telehealth. eClinicalWorks offers a fixed price of $449/provider/month for its EHR module.
- Practice Fusion: An innovative, cloud-based ambulatory EHR built to help small and medium care providers to save time with smart charting. The platform enables independent practices to deliver quality care with efficiency. Besides, it connects practices to pharmacies, local labs, and imaging centers. This way, it streamlines e-prescribing, saving time, and helping patients to receive medication faster. Some of the key Practice Fusion features include smart charting, patient portal, automatic updates, scheduling, billing, and task management. Even better, the application enables patients to access their health records, from laboratory results to prescriptions, with ease. Practice Fusion pricing isn’t publicly available, contact the vendor for comprehensive pricing details.
- Allscripts Professional EHR: An ambulatory EHR platform that combines clinical, financial, operational, and wellness software tools for small to medium-sized practices. The system provides solutions that enable ACOs, FQHCs, and PCMHs to deliver safer patient care. Primarily, Allscripts Professional EHR allows practices to speed up documentation, see more patients, and connect with other industry players and agencies. Beyond document management, the platform supports multiple aspects of the healthcare sector. It streamlines financial management, patient engagement, precision medicine, population health management, and analytics. Allscripts Professional EHR pricing isn’t publicly available. Contact the vendor for detailed pricing information.
- CureMD: A robust, cloud-based EHR system built for practices of different types and sizes, including ACO networks, county health departments, and federally qualified health centers. Over and above its basic EHR features, the platform offers a knowledge base that is geared towards simplifying performance, usability, and reliability. Moreover, CureMD is designed with interoperability in mind to facilitate a seamless exchange of information. It connects with pharmacies, hospital networks, syndromic surveillance agencies, specialty registries, and more. Even better, the solution supports workflow automation, empowering services to improve productivity, optimize collaboration, and enhance service quality. CureMD offers a quote-based pricing model. Be sure to contact the vendor to request a quote.
What Are The Types Of EHR Software?
Generally, EHR software can be divided into two broad categories:
- Server-based or on-premise EHR software. This type of EHR system allows you to keep medical records in-house on locally installed servers.
- Cloud-based EHR software. Unlike on-premise systems, cloud-based EHR platforms enable you to record and store medical records on a remote or cloud-hosted server. The servers are owned, operated, and maintained by a third party vendor.
Not long ago, on-premise EHR software was the industry standard. However, in the modern era where technological advancement is on high gear, the trend has been to move EHR systems to the cloud.
In addition to the two broad categories, EHR software can be open-source or custom.
- Open-source EHR. This type of EHR comes with publicly available source code. As a result, users can modify the solution in any way they choose and redistribute it at will. Healthcare companies with a team of seasoned programmers can leverage open-source EHR to create versions that are adapted to suit their needs.
- On the other hand, Custom EHR is a platform that is designed to meet the unique needs of a specific healthcare provider. Unlike the mass-market software, custom EHR users get all the crucial functions they need at a reasonable price. Even more, custom solutions can be designed to exclude features of less significance.
Features Of EHR Software
Privacy and security
These days, cyber attackers are always hovering around, looking for a tiny vulnerability to intrude into a system and steal valuable data. It is not surprising, then, that news of hospitals, clinics, and medical practices that have lost control of their databases are rampant. You cannot afford to lose even a single byte of your protected health information.
This is the reason why security is an essential feature of any EHR solution. At the very least, a secure EHR system should offer military-grade protection to data and be HIPAA compliant. Also, the solution should ensure data is transmitted over a secure communication protocol, such as an HTTPS network.
Even more, the solution should have proper access controls. This means the system should give you a 360-degree view of who is accessing what, where, and when. This way, it will be easy to maintain the confidentiality of patients’ information.
Besides offering a utility for doctors, nurses, and physician assistants, EHR software provides a patient portal. Such a portal offers intuitive features that enable patients to access prescriptions, book appointments, chat with the doctor, or download fill out forms.
Essentially, the portal gives patients freedom and convenience. It allows new patients to complete the intake forms from the comfort of their couch, workplace, or computer kiosk. Consequently, it saves them from the repetition of paper forms. In the same sense, the portal saves healthcare providers a great deal of time since they don’t have to capture patients’ details from piles of paper.
Another key feature is the e-prescription function. With EHR software, doctors don’t have to write and send handwritten notes or prescriptions. Instead, the technology allows them to create electronic prescriptions that are sent to the pharmacy with a click of a button.
E-prescriptions expedite the prescription process, thus, benefiting all the involved parties–the doctor, pharmacist, and the patients. Besides, the technology slims down the number of errors made by pharmacists when reading a doctor’s messy handwriting. Ultimately, it instills accuracy to prescription and can be configured to deliver prompt reminders for a refill.
Moreover, EHR solutions come with robust reporting capabilities. They allow you to generate a comprehensive report to track metrics of high significance. For example, you can create customized reports to track patient outcomes and the number of no-shows you’ve had in a particular period.
The lab is, without a doubt, an indispensable department of the healthcare facility. It’s a central organ that helps create reports for diagnosing and treating diseases. The lab feature of EHR software ensures seamless collaboration between the doctor and the lab department. It enables the lab technicians to create and send reports with ease. On the other hand, it allows doctors to access and review lab tests for fast decisions.
Additionally, modern EHR software is designed to facilitate hassle-free patient billing. The billing system eliminates manual data entry and cuts down typing errors. Even better, billing information is maintained in one centralized system, thus, boosting data security. What’s more, with the billing system, patients have access to their billing history. On the other hand, care providers have details of claims paid, and the number of patients served.
What Are The Benefits Of EHR Software?
Recently, the use of modern technologies in the healthcare sector has skyrocketed. IT solutions, such as EHR platforms, have become a must-have for health organizations, small and big. The real reason for this massive adoption of EHR solutions is to leverage the benefits they deliver. Some of the notable benefits include:
This is, inarguably, the most immediate and prominent benefit of EHR solutions. Traditionally, healthcare providers spend a great deal of time handling paperwork and administrative tasks. However, with the modern EHR solution, clinicians don’t have to spend their workday filling out paper forms.
Instead, the EHR platform automates routine form processing tasks, making the entire process paperless. Of course, the paperless process comes with plenty of benefits, including improved accuracy and a decline in storage space. Even better, the office becomes less cluttered since the need to store paper forms is eliminated.
A comprehensive view of patient records
The solution brings streamlined efficiency, kicking manual paperwork, and routine administrative duties out of the process. Essentially, EHR software enables healthcare providers to create and store electronic patient records in a single system.
It enables medical practitioners to maintain a dynamic patient-centered record. In this way, they can track their patients’ care continuum over their lifetimes and get a 360-degree view of their overall health. Better still, doctors can access patients’ health information in real-time. With data such as medical history at their fingertips, doctors can deliver improved diagnosis and better treatment.
Even better, by cutting down on manual admin tasks and paperwork, EHR solutions improve efficiency and productivity. With the software in place, staff and patients will have just a few forms to fill out. As a result, it saves time, enabling clinicians, nurses, and doctors to focus on delivering better care.
What’s more, with automation comes streamlined workflows. For example, healthcare providers can quickly send lab results, prescriptions, and referrals to relevant departments. Moreover, EHR solutions help significantly reduce the waiting times for pick-ups or appointments.
Frequent reminders and updates
Also, EHR solutions provide timely reminders and alerts to patients and practitioners alike. You can configure the solutions to signal clinicians when to recall patients for checkups or check reports for prompt diagnosis.
On the other hand, the platforms send automatic reminders to alert patients about upcoming checkups. In this way, they enable facilities to reduce no-shows significantly. Besides, you can set the platforms to alert patients and keep them on the course of completing a milestone with regular screenings.
Better quality care
We’ve saved the best for the last. While EHR solutions offer a host of benefits, perhaps none is better than facilitating greater care. The solutions enable health organizations to deliver treatment with unprecedented effectiveness. Moreover, they improve patients’ safety and notably increase operational efficiency.
What’s more, having all patient information in an accessible system makes it easy to track a patient’s overall health. Better still, with health analytics, medical practitioners can easily pinpoint patterns, forecast diagnosis, and suggest viable treatment options. Ultimately, this removes trial-and-error treatments, enabling clinicians to provide accurate diagnosis and successful treatments the first time around.
Factors To Consider When Buying EHR Software
Since the advent of cloud technology, the innovation of new EHR systems has been on overdrive. The market is already reaching saturation point, and now, practices face a new challenge. It’s a daunting task to wade through the pile of EHR systems and pick the best platform.
Considering that getting a health information technology system is a huge investment, the margin for selection error is considerable. For this reason, you should take into account the following factors to land the best EHR software:
It’s important to consider the deployment option of the available solution. Practices are being encouraged to take their operations to the cloud, which is highly recommended at this point.
Cloud-based EHR solutions bring a host of benefits. For example, cloud systems lessen the cost of implementation because you don’t have to purchase additional hardware. Further, cloud-based systems provide enhanced security, automatic backup, hassle-free, and high availability. Also, reliable cloud-based vendors are HIPAA compliant. What’s more, top quality hosting options come with automated failover and guarantees a high level of business continuity.
It is also good to check the compatibility of the system with your underlying workflows. A customizable EHR software gives you the option to change its core functions to suit unique operational, workflow, reporting, and communication needs. These can be configured to suit preventive care, treatment plans, and disease management. Even more, a customizable solution can be tweaked to meet unique preferences, practice styles, and evidence-based medicine.
Cost is, without a doubt, one of the most important factors to consider when buying an EHR software. The initial investment must fit into your budget. Also, you need to take into account long-term costs, such as networking, interfaces, hardware, and training resources. Leave no stone unturned when it comes to calculating the cost.
Moreover, give return on investment (ROI) a serious consideration. Ideally, you should establish the impact an EHR system will have on overall clinical efficiency. How long will it take your practice to recoup the initial investment? Will there be a loss of productivity following the implementation of the system? Some of these factors might seem superficial, but they tip the balance when it comes to ROI and profits.
Integrations and Interoperability
An integrated EHR system is typically built on a single source code. As a result, the solution facilitates the seamless exchange of information between multiple modules, such as practice management, patient portal, and the EHR system itself. The benefit of using an integrated system is that it improves physician-patient interaction, thus, aiding the delivery of coordinated care.
On the other hand, an EHR software should offer robust interoperability. This means that the system should facilitate the exchange of discrete clinical information and data, such as history, lab results, radiology reports, a summary of care, and prescription. It should establish proper sync between all the parties involved in the continuum of care.
Compliance and certification
It’s beneficial to get an EHR tool designed to ensure compliance with relevant federal and state regulations, such as HIPAA, Meaningful Use, and safety regulations. Besides, the solution should facilitate secure communication, specialty and immunization registries, and syndromic surveillance.
Potential Issues With EHR Software
There are a few issues that you must give serious consideration when implementing the EHR software. Understanding the challenges beforehand will help you deal with the curveballs that the EHR system will throw at your practice.
The initial loss of productivity
When you install an EHR software, anticipate teething problems, such as loss of productivity, a decline in workflow efficiency, and a reduction in the number of patients seen. It’s good to inform your employees about these challenges to prepare them better to tackle the issues. Moreover, such shortcomings may result in potential overtime pay and could heighten the need for support.
Generally, people find it difficult to accept change, especially if it occurs within the workplace. It’s highly likely that your employees, from support staff to clinical staff to board members, will resist this change. To avert any crisis and lessen the resistance, you should initiate positivity and acceptance campaigns early on.
The best way to champion change is to build a gamified promotion and marketing plan around the implementation. Also, fashion and execute comprehensive awareness and training plans. This way, your staff will understand the benefits that the EHR system brings to the table for them and the practice in general.
Lastly, when implementing a new EHR software, the tedious and time-consuming process of migrating data comes into the picture. Patient data migration calls for not only accuracy but also stringent security.
Ideally, you should prioritize records to establish how far back your data should be moved. Start with the latest records and work backward to ensure that the most recent data and information are available for use by clinicians almost instantaneously.
Latest EHR Trends
There is no doubt, EHRs are strongly founded in the medical landscape. However, ongoing technological progress necessitates that healthcare providers stay abreast of emerging trends. Here are some of the trends to keep an eye on:
AI meets voice recognition
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a technology full of unexploited potential in the healthcare sector. The technology has, without a doubt, shown great promise in redefining the way clinicians make diagnoses and establish medical trends. Recently, however, innovators are exploring the possibility of incorporating AI into EHR through voice recognition. Allscripts Partners have taken a giant leap towards actualizing this idea. The company, in collaboration with Northwell Health, has engineered a voice-enabled, AI-based EHR system.
Increased patient engagement
As mentioned earlier, there are many benefits to using EHR software. One of the most obvious is that it allows hospitals with thousands of patients to have all the information in one place. Besides, these systems enable health providers to monitor patients outside the facility, such as when they’re at work or home.
Some facilities also rely heavily on EHR systems to reduce manual tasks and boost patient engagement levels. For example, Lake Washington Physical Therapy uses an EHR-integrated patient messaging to increase patient capacity.
The facility has been at the fore leveraging mobile-first user experience to boost engagement and meet patient expectations. In 2016, Lake Washington Physical Therapy implemented patient engagement technology. After only three years, the providers had increased patient capacity by 21% and annual revenue by $15,000.
Blockchain in EHR
Blockchain, a technology used in the supply chain industry to track shipments, is making its way to the EHR sector. For example, Brazilian insurer Metlife, through its innovation center, Lumen Labs, built a blockchain for its insurance payouts. Also, the corporation has engineered Vitana, a flagship product with a blockchain backend that facilitates recording and tracking of diabetes in pregnant mothers.
What Is The Best EHR Software For Your Business?
In the modern era, there is a need for every healthcare practice to break the shackles of paper-based EHR systems. It’s time to move to innovative EHR systems to handle patients’ records and streamline core functions and workflows.
As you may have noticed, doing so won’t be easy, regardless of the size of your practice. There are challenges, but the benefits that modern EHR software brings to the table are irresistible. The systems will take redundant tasks off your staff’s plate, empowering them to provide exceptional care. Moreover, going paperless will not only save your resources but also declutter your workplace and make it conducive for increased productivity.