In the medical field, one of the most common types of technology is electronic medical records (EMR) software. This tool is shifting practices of all sizes from paper charting to electronic for various reasons, including government incentives and regulations encouraging practices to implement electronic health records (EHR) systems. For physicians in small or single-practitioner practices, implementing EHR software can seem like a daunting drain on time and finances. However, in order to receive government incentives and keep up with the technology of other facilities, customizable EMR/EHR software can be a great investment.
Nowadays, many companies use the terms EMR and EHR interchangeably. However, they are technically different. EMRs are practice specific; when a practice uses an EMR, that medical information remains within the practice. EHRs gather the exact same information and have the same features as EMRs, but they take it one step further. Good EHR software that meets national regulations and standards can securely share medical information between multiple organizations outside a single practice, such as labs, pharmacies and state immunization registries. With medical information shared, patients and physicians don't have to worry about accidentally over-prescribing medications or repeating lengthy, costly tests. This interoperability feature means that patients can receive consistent, comprehensive care no matter what health care provider they go to.
With this software, you want an EMR/EHR that is easy to use and fits to the workflow of you and your staff. The best software offers full customization of important features, such as templates and patient charts. You should also look for systems with EHR capabilities, such as the option to integrate with labs, pharmacies and state immunization registries. The best EMR systems for smaller practices that we looked at are GE Healthcare, athenahealth and eClinicalWorks. You can also read our articles on EMR software to learn more about which software solution would be best for your facility's needs.
Because an EMR is involved in most aspects of running a practice from day to day, you want to consider a wide variety of features. Good EMR/EHR software offers you tools to involve your patients in their own care, such as with patient portals. With the shift to EHRs, you also want to make sure the system you select can share information securely and safely with other facilities. The best software rounds out its features with great back-office features so your practice can run smoothly behind the scenes. All of these features combined should add up to meeting or exceeding government regulations.
Patients are the most important aspect of health care, so good medical software gives them access to tools and information to help improve their care. Good EMR systems include a patient portal where patients can perform a variety of tasks, such as requesting appointments and accessing education resources.
The primary function of an EHR system is to integrate a practice's EMR information with outside systems and facilities. A good EHR system can integrate with labs, immunization registries, pharmacies and referring providers. Integration allows practices to meet government regulations and guidelines, such as for Meaningful Use attestation, which can bring practices monetary incentives every year.
You and your practice staff need to have software that helps you perform your jobs quickly and accurately. Good software offers customizable back-office features, such as a variety of templates for charting and workflow. You can also benefit from mobile apps, which let you chart securely on mobile hardware, such as iPads.
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The medical field and government regulations are pushing ever harder for practices to move towards using EHR systems that align with regulations. Not only do meeting regulations offer you the opportunity to gain government incentives, but they also ensure that systems and patient information is secure.
With such an important technological addition to your practice, you want to make sure you get the best EHR software for your facility's workflow. The right software improves your office work and patient care while adhering to important regulations, which can net you extra incentives and help you avoid costly fines.