|Electronic medical records||Electronic health records software (EHR) is software that assists in developing and storing patient medical records digitally. This unique system assists physicians in tracking patient histories, notes, medications, and demographics. The most popular features of EHR software include e-prescribing, E&M coding advice, and SOAP notes. Quality Electronic Health Records Software (EHR) also offers lab integration, voice recognition, tablet support, and device integration.|
|Medical billing||Medical billing modules or Medical Billing software manage the development of patient statements and submission of insurance claims. Key functions of such systems include claim scrubbing, e-claim submission, coding, payment posting, eligibility inquiry, and reporting.|
|Patient scheduling||This module is designed to automate the entire process of scheduling patient appointments. Core features of a good patient scheduling module may include sending reminders through phone, text message, and email, automated follow–ups, and multi–location support. Such modules are usually offered along with a billing module in a practice management software suite.|
|Radiology information systems||A radio information system (RIS) is one that manages the workflow and operations of radiology imaging centers or large medical practices having radiology imaging departments. Such EHR Software or modules automate the entire process of storing, operating, and distributing patient medical images and related data.|
|Picture archiving and communications systems||PACS is designed to manage, store and retrieve DICOM images. Such systems are often used in combination with a RIS (Radio Information System) to perform the radiology workflow proficiently.|
|Medical accounting||The term Medical accounting refers to a system designed to automate accounting processes for medical practices. Major functions of such systems include general ledger, A/P, A/R, and financial reporting.|
What you need to know about an EMR Software
Today over 600 companies provide EHR/EMR and Practice Management Software and with this growing competition selecting the right electronic medical records software or practice management software is always a very difficult choice. EMRFinder understands your problem and provides a complete and comprehensive catalog of specialty-specific potential EMR Software, perfect for your practice needs. There are many things to be considered when thinking to start using or switching your current Electronic Health Records Software (EHR Software). This buyer’s guide covers every necessary aspect to consider before making a final decision.
The term EMR Software or EHR Software (Electronic Health Records) is basically used for the electronic documentation and maintenance of medical records for patients via computer or a mobile device. EHR Software essentially improves the efficiency of practice by helping in making more accurate documentation of the encounters resulting in improved profitability. Its usability has been recognized and it became a part of the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH) in 2004.
EMR Software Benefits
Besides financial profitability, practices have seen the following benefits of using an EHR/EMR Software:
- Improved practice efficiency
- Streamlined administrative tasks
- Improved profitability and revenue cycle (Medical Billing Services)
- Improved Patient Engagement (via Patient Portal)
- Decreased stationary costs
- Improved collections due to more organized claims
- Automated alerts and reminders helping patients return to the office when necessary and notifying the practice about any potential risk
- Enhanced Security and Safety (Cloud Storage & Back-ups) – Cloud-based EMR Software
EMR Software by Specialty
Specialty-specific software enables physicians and other medical professionals to store detailed clinical information, such as demographics, medical history, social history, lab reports,etc.
Specialty-specific EMR Software or EHR Software must be fairly customizable to the unique style and documentation requirements since all medical practices have a specific need based on the background and medical specialty. For example, Pain Management or Dermatology specific EMR software should include the ability to store before/after photos and to annotate on images. Similarly, specialties like Pediatrics, Oncology, Podiatry, Ophthalmology, Neurology, Nephrology, Dialysis Centers, Rheumatology, and Chiropractic Care require their unique set of features to simplify adoption.
EMR Software by Practice Size
Because of the massive adaptability requirement, every EMR Software is not suitable for any practice. As an EMR Software designed for hospitals or multi-provider clinics does not necessarily support a solo or a small practice. So what are the factors that will make an EHR Software vendor viable for your medical practice?
From solo to large providers and multi-specialty clinics, every practice has its unique set of challenges that must be addressed by the Electronic Medical Records (EMR) software vendor some of which are listed below.
Small or Solo Provider Practices
Small or solo practices with small office space and a limited number of staff members are generally short on the budget compared to larger practices. Due to these constraints, many providers simply prefer cloud-based EMR software and employ Free EMR Software or choose an affordable EHR Software vendor with a low fixed monthly fee.
Often belonging to the same medical specialty, the medium-sized practices require unique features such as interoperability, dedicated customer support, multi-device support as well as extensive reporting functionality to keep an eye on the overall performance of the practice, as their budget is also comparatively larger.
Larger medical practices usually offer medical services that fall under various medical specialties (e.g. Orthopedics, Pain Management, Surgery, Chiropractic Medicine, Family Medicine,etc.). Comprising fifteen to twenty medical providers, these practices often require support for multiple users to access the systems simultaneously. Scheduling software and a scalable solution to accommodate multiple locations, providers, and resources such as Dialysis Chairs, procedure room allocation,etc. are also the requirements of larger practices.
Hospitals or Enterprise Organizations
Hospitals or enterprise organizations have the most elaborate list of requirements, which are usually documented in the form of an RFI or RFP to assess and shortlist vendors that can meet them.
Hospitals or enterprises are often the target market of EMR software companies such as Athenahealth, McKesson, Epic, Cerner, eClinicalWorks, Allscripts, NextGen, drChrono, and Meditech,etc. and they usually provide ideal EHR software solutions for larger corporations such as ACOs, PCMH, IPAs, CINs (Clinically Integrated Networks), and Public Health Departments, etc. These EMR software companies usually offer features like integration with multiple other software and medical devices, inventory management modules, interface with local labs (LIS), machines and diagnostic equipment along with drug dispensing (pharmacy management software) and electronic medication administration record (EMAR),etc.
Tips to consider when choosing an EMR Vendor
Electronic Medical Records (EMR) consist of various software, all with different functionalities and applications. Here are a few tips one should consider before selecting an EMR Software:
Safety and security of patient data and medical records is a principal concern for not only clinicians and medical providers, but their patients as well. A strong EMR Software ensures the safety and security of medical records and all the related patient information and guarantees HIPAA Compliance providing them privacy (especially during the patient’s communication with their doctor via Patient Portal). Top EMR Software Vendors from today (AdvancedMD, PrognoCIS, Modernizing Medicine, Chirotouch, Kareo, etc.) use data encryption technologies and other advanced tools in every section of the EMR Software to make sure that they safeguard patient records.
Cloud-based EMR Software
Due to its various advantages, cloud-based EMR has grown more popular among physicians lately. A Cloud-based EHR software is mostly device dependent and supports multiple devices such as Smartphones (iPhones and Android phones) iPhones, iPads, desktop computers, and laptops. The EMR software can be accessed from any location at any time provided that internet access is available. The Cloud-based EHR Software technology usually requires minimum or no maintenance or upfront cost making it ideal for doctors running small clinics and private practices. Some of the Cloud-based EMR Software vendors include ChartPerfect, Care Cloud, AllegienceMD, CureMD, ChartLogic, etc.
The move to the public cloud for healthcare is vital in the current changing landscape. For practices that do not adopt new cloud services, the old inferior feature-set coupled with the higher prices will hinder the business dramatically. This gulf between the old software and the new cloud-based software will only grow more exponentially as time goes on.
ONC-ATCB Certified EMR Software
One of the characteristics of a strong EMR software is that it is ONC-ATCB certified and complies with the guidelines and protocols defined by the Office of the National Coordinator (ONC). The software vendors who comply with these measures go through severe testing and conform at a benchmark level set by the federal body. This testing ensures that all areas of the software are checked for example Patient Portal, the way the software communicates with Pharmacies via E-prescription (e-Rx), HIEs, labs, hospitals, etc. Most of the EHR vendors nowadays have all the details related to their compliance with the standards established by the ONC (Click here) present online.
Mac EMR Software
Today when it comes to the world of computers and digital devices, Apple is the undisputed leader in the US. Therefore, it will not be odd if healthcare providers today specifically look for EMR Software that works on Mac systems (Mac EMR Software). However, unfortunately not all EMR software vendors support Mac devices, therefore when looking for an EMR system it is essential that the EHR Software has built-in support for Mac so that the software can be used with existing systems and any further investment in new computers can be avoided.
Specialty EHR software
Certain specialty-specific Electronic health records (EHR) systems must offer unique tools for that specialty for clinical documentation. For example for gastroenterology, the EMR system should include specific tools that should be able to document clinical workflow and specify the area of concern (e.g. issues concerning the GI tract) and must offer much more than capturing raw data or text. (Gastroenterology EMR Software).
When selecting an EMR System, one of the basic and most important decisions that you need to make is if you want the EMR Software solution by itself or integrated with a Practice Management System for scheduling and billing. Having an integrated EHR and PM solution has its pros, yet there have been instances where practices chose an EHR by themselves, as they had some unique needs that EMR Software vendors could not be met or they had already made large payments for separate Practice Management solutions and could not replace it, in fact, were bound to use it.
Integrated Practice Management Software
With competition rising every day in the field of healthcare IT, many EHR Vendors who provide integrated Practice Management solutions included in the software bundle easily outclass competitors with standalone EMR Software including the ones that offer a specialty-specific EMR Solution. EHR software providers with integrated Practice Management systems often tend to offer widespread reporting competencies to monitor how the practice performs and manages administrative tasks better.
Integrated Medical Billing Software
Like all other software solutions needed by a medical practice, it is very important for a healthcare organization to have a strong billing system to be able to communicate with insurance companies and to charge all the services rendered. Medical Billing Software works best when integrated with EMR software. The clinical documentation complies with all the mandatory standards and forms a financial document that is sent electronically to insurance carriers or financiers so that they can validate and process at their end. This helps streamline operations and various administrative tasks and makes sure everyone is on the same page where financial matters are concerned. By using the Medical billing Software system, practices are able to produce patient statements, confirm patient eligibility, and generate claims, and much more. Medical billing solutions integrated with EMRs prove to be ideal for healthcare organizations who wish to manage to bill in-house.
Different EMR Vendors offer varying prices. Some EMR Software sellers offer their services for free, while others provide specialty services for extremely high costs. In both cases, there always might be chances of several hidden costs that might be revealed later. When selecting an EHR Software, make sure you finalize your budget and discuss all the hidden costs included in the contract with your potential vendors. Also, make sure you ask them about the charges for services such as support and training.
With technological advancements happening every second, life has become faster than ever. To keep up with this fast pace, people in all walks of life like to rely more on handheld devices especially because of their handiness, mobility and a number of other uses. Like all other professions, the field of medicine also relies heavily on the use of technology more and more. Doctors nowadays, need an EMR system with which they can use Tablets or iPads to take down notes about symptoms, patient history, and electronically prescribe medication to the patients and a mobile application synced with all the mobile devices being used in the practice.
Ease of Use and Training
Though some doctors and physicians might be very proficient with technology, at the end of the day, they are not IT professionals. They always prefer software that is easy to use, so that not only their transition process from their existing systems (paper or existing EHR) is smooth, but also their everyday experience with their Electronic Health Records software goes without any hindrances. An EMR System that is too complicated to understand can waste a lot of time resulting in users to be aggravated. Also, there are some EMR companies that provide users with training free of cost, so at the time of selecting an EMR software, make sure that you ask the vendor to train you and other staff members of the practice to have a better grasp of the software and if there will be any additional costs involved for training.
Specialty Based EMR Software
All medical providers work in their distinctive manner and have unique needs according to their specialties. Therefore, most of the EMR Software Vendors today ensure that their EHR Software is specially tailored for a specific specialty or a number of specialties. This was a predictable conclusion of the EMR Software journey, as more and more healthcare providers were required to switch to Electronic Medical Records (EMR) systems. Most of the EHR software companies at that point of time were essentially focused on selling their software to all healthcare providers regardless of their specialties. But the specialty-based medical providers soon realized that the software did not meet the requirements of their practices. Therefore, the demand for specialty-specific EMR systems increased. To meet that demand, EMR software vendors started producing specialty-specific EHR software and as a result of that, today there are several unique EMR systems available for almost all the specialties like Cardiology, Anesthesiology, Family Medicine, Orthopedics, Urology, Optometry, Pulmonology, General Surgery, Alternative & Holistic Medicine, etc.
Customer Support Quality
When you adopt an EHR software for your practice, it eases your routine tasks and helps your practice in so many different ways. But what will you do when your software faces a technical issue? It is normal for any software application to malfunction from time to time. This is when you should pick up your phone and contact the customer service representative of your EMR software service provider. An efficient customer support service addresses all of your concerns and issues and tries to resolve them in a knowledgeable and skilled way. Only a customer service rep can understand the issues or changes in the behavior of your Electronic Health Records software application and then the rep can pass on your concerns to the appropriate department to get your issue fixed. A good customer service representative always ensures customer satisfaction. On the other hand, a bad and rude customer rep will only make things worse. Most of the EMR software vendors provide customer support as a part of the plan that you are paying for, while some of them charge extra for this service. Before implementing an EHR software you should make that clear with the vendor if there will be a special support team assigned to the practitioner within the package or not.
Market Trends to Be Aware Of
The EHR industry, like everything else, goes through constant changes all the time. Whether it is new innovations or updates in technology, or changes in legalities, the EMR industry is always changing. Following is a list of such changes that you should keep track of.
It was revealed in a previous research how only 25% of practitioners were interested in a web-based model and only 50% were willing to have it as an initial model that eventually transitioned to cloud-based. But ever since it has been established that cloud-based EMR software cuts down on steep upfront costs for client-servers and can be hosted on any device that has a web-browser. It is no surprise how more and more vendors are transitioning to cloud-based software also because the industry demands are changing.
EMR software is quickly widening their range of practice types in order to become more accessible to healthcare services. The amount of people who lack the time and knowledge, who are in health IT, is increasing each year. This makes optimizing these software solutions more difficult as they must now cater to different needs. Douglas W. Bowerman, MD, predicts we will see a “continued trend towards accessibility” in EMRs, both in terms of how we access them – on mobile, for instance – and who can access the software.
Healthcare facilities accumulate massive amounts of patient data. Patient health and financial data lets vendors help physicians with Clinical Decision Support (CDS). Leveraging analytics algorithm predictions can solve interoperability-related accessibility issues. Data warehouse development is also an opportunity to ensure more accurate patient data thanks to automation.
Despite being used more for cryptocurrency and a recent surge in NFT’s, the blockchain has recently found a place in EHR software. The blockchain allows EHR data to be secured through cryptography, making it available only to those who have access to it in the first place. As an example, the blockchain can validate clinical trial and claims results, track medicine distribution and prevent insurance fraud. Although the usage of blockchain in EHR has only just begun since the start of 2022, it is already being used to secure data and ensure confidentiality.
5G Networks are poised to become the forefront of data communication method in only a few years. They offer up to 100x the speed of contemporary 4G networks yet may still not integrate properly with the current state of healthcare. As it stands, there are many different formats available that are all competing to become the dominant method for EHR communication. As such, medical records are currently spread amongst these different formats; they are incompatible and so the various EHR systems cannot communicate at all. Until a standard is agreed upon, 5G networks will not be able to bypass the bottleneck created by two opposing systems.
The current standards that regulate EMR are very lax. Vendors end up having to pay millions in settlement fees due to false claims about meaningful use certifications. However, regulations are becoming far stricter and more transparent to prevent incidents like this happening again. The interface between physicians and medical billing coders will likely become more separate. This is because they both need access to completely unrelated pieces of information, so sharing the same regulations often leads to life – threatening miscommunication.
In order for EMR/EHR companies to continue to grow, it is going to require a lot more than simply using existing technology to diagnose your issues. Ensuring patients have consistent engagement throughout the scheduling process is imperative. One of the best ways to boost patient engagement is by increasing your outreach via different social mediums and making content more easily accessible, through patient communities for example. Giving physicians an insight into their patients health has become paramount and has recently been utilized by including data from smart devices in patient reports.
Technology is innovating on a daily basis and constantly influences electronic health records. For example, common AI virtual assistants are beginning to assist healthcare services, speeding up the diagnostic process and increasing efficiency. Other tech giants are also entering the healthcare field, such as Apple and Google. With their massive budgets, they have the ability to invest heavily in R&D without taking many risks. They have also already witnessed the issues that arise from the lack of interoperability in current iterations of EMR software, and are very unlikely to make the same mistakes. This competition is great for consumers and clinicians as it will force EHR vendors to rapidly modernize their systems with far more regular updates, meaning large-scale changes are on the horizon.
Better Patient Access
Despite promising patients access to medical records, this feature has not materialized on EHR systems as of yet. A study in 2019 found that only 10% of patients who had access to their records online actually accessed them; of them, 63% were encouraged to do so by their healthcare providers. In order to prepare for potential regulatory changes in the future, software developers are updating EHR systems to be easier to navigate and better fit the patients needs. Practices themselves are also now providing proper guidance and awareness about the importance of regularly checking one’s own records in order to familiarize themselves before appointments.
EHR systems are the forefront supplier for paper-to-screen technology, so it is imperative for the software to be inclusive towards a wide range of digital capabilities. Implementing better use of data liquidity will allow data to be more accessible, increasing the EHR footprint. This can be done without sacrificing the security of the data. Implementing better interoperable solutions will also expand the footprint, allowing healthcare organizations to better access and exchange patient data.
Increasing the EHR footprint of medical practices has proven to massively improve both efficiency and savings for the industry. In 2005, a RAND study suggested that up to $77 billion could be saved by adopting EHR software. The study was so influential that presently, in 2022, more than 90% of hospitals have adopted complete use of EHR software in their practice.
AI is rapidly gaining traction for its newfound reputation of completely automating the process of analyzing massive volumes of data for more accurate and faster results. More and more EHR’s are starting to adopt AI-based technology into their software as a means to accurately pinpoint diseases without human intervention. This completely eliminates human error and drastically improves patient outcomes. It also reduces any costs related to manual entry and redundant tasks.
EMR/EHR Software Demand
Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, demand for EMR software grew by 5.5%. Hospitalizations rose dramatically around the world, contributing to this rise. The current market is dominated by Cerner Corporation, Epic Systems Corporation, Allscripts Healthcare Solutions, Inc., GE Healthcare, McKesson Corporation, and NextGen Healthcare. It is estimated that these market players accounted for almost 65% of the market share in 2021.
Digital Therapeutics involves software that can behaviorally alter patients and help treat mental conditions through the use of different interventions. Usually, digital therapeutics are used through smartphones and tablets. The software is quickly being integrated into EHR software and they aim to be more patient-centric. As they begin to meet industry requirements, their popularity will continue to rise and clinical trial results will continue to be published in peer-reviews journals.
In their current state, EHR and EMR software do not properly address medical error prevention. Previously, illegible handwriting on paper prescriptions were blamed, but over-reliance on computers to supply the correct doses for medication can prove to be equally as dangerous. For example, a 16-year old patient in 2013 was prescribed 38 tablets of medication, but it turned out to be an overdose for someone of that age. These sorts of errors are far more common than we would like to believe. In the future, EMR and EHR software developers are striving to dramatically reduce these errors by de-cluttering the physician notification center which could cause less time spent attending to patients. Currently, details such as patient implants may not be added to the system before radio-logical imaging since EHRs don’t actually have a standard place to store notes.
One of the biggest hassles in dealing with current EMR / EHR software is being able to easily navigate through mountains of data. Despite large leaps in technology in recent years, EMR / EHR software is clearly behind in terms of its ease-of-use and User Interfaces. Electronic Health Records are designed for easier data access than paper files, and EMR vendors are starting to implement updated iterations of their user interface in their software to better achieve this goal.
Largely spearheaded by big tech companies such as Apple, wearable devices are surging in popularity in medical fields – the market is expected to grow 26.8% from 2022 till 2028.The devices have allowed healthcare metrics to become far more accessible and have, in turn, made medical diagnosis simpler. Integrating the data from wearable devices to Electronic Health Records (EHR) has the potential to massively improve patient healthcare. The devices include various different sensors that can track body activity and monitor environmental factors. Currently, they come in many different forms, such as smartwatches, fitness trackers and specialized apps on mobile phones.
The Healthcare industry is adapting the latest technologies not to only secure, but to also provide fast and easy access for patients to their own data. Patients need to be informed and engage timely so that they will have a better trust level with their provider. To achieve greater health outcomes, we will continue to see this trend for a longer period.
Electronic Medical Records don’t offer patients the ability to access their own records across multiple healthcare organizations due to the lack of data-sharing standards set between different practices. This causes significant problems for patients who receive care for multiple different centres. The issue also makes diagnosis of patients harder for physicians and healthcare providers. Due to this, EMR/EHR providers are updating their software to include interoperability and integration features to allow data to be shared between these different organizations.
Meaningful Use or MACRA
Medicare Access and CHIP Re-authorization Act (MACRA) of 2015 (previously known as Meaningful Use) created the Quality Payment Program that:
- Repeals the sustainable growth rate formula
- Changes the way that Medicare pays physicians for value over volume
- Streamlines multiple quality programs under the new Merit-Based Incentive Payments System (MIPS)
- Awards extra payments for participation in eligible alternative payment models (APMs)