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Why Use EMR Software?
EMR software allows healthcare professionals to create, manage, and maintain health records for their entire patient base all in one centralized location. Comprehensive EMR systems allow providers to enter data for consults and assessments, assign diagnoses, order tests, send electronic prescriptions to a patient's pharmacy, and refer patients to outside providers. While these processes were once mostly paper-based, the healthcare industry is moving away from paper charting, as EMR software enables doctors to practice medicine more efficiently and effectively and leads to better patient care.
With EMR software, doctors can manage all aspects of their practice – scheduling, charting, and billing – and benefit from decision-making and treatment plan recommendation tools. Additionally, most EMR vendors offer specialty specific EMR software which can be tailored to fit each medical practice's needs and workflows.
Factors to Consider When Choosing an EMR
Web-based vs. Client/Server:
Web-based EMRs allows users to access the software from any Internet-enabled computer, meaning that speed and performance will likely be linked to the quality of your Internet connection. If you choose this model you won't have to worry about purchasing new hardware or worrying about server maintenance; and instead of a large upfront payment you will have smaller monthly fees.
EMR software installed on a client server is only accessible from other network-connected computers where the software has been installed. Providers will need to make sure that their computers and server meet the EMR vendor's recommended software specifications in order to achieve optimal speed and performance.
Basic EMR vs. Practice Management (PM) System:
Basic EMR software usually allows providers to perform clinical documentation tasks and e-prescribing. Meanwhile, EMR/PM systems include features such as appointment scheduling, billing, lab management, and intra-office messaging. If you are already using a practice management system, it is likely that you can build an interface to integrate it with your EMR software. Some providers, however, prefer the convenience of having everything included in one system.
Specialty-specific vs. General EMR:
If you practice medicine in a specialty field, a cookie cutter EMR solution is not really the way to go. Instead, you should find an EMR vendor that offers customizable software specific to your particular specialty. This way you can rest easy knowing that your EMR has templates, assessments and diagnoses geared towards your specialty, as well as ICD and CPT codes and workflows designed around the way you practice medicine.
Knowing what kind interfaces you want to have can help you narrow down your choices when selecting an EMR, as you will need to make sure that the EMR software you end up with is able to interface with any hospitals, labs or pharmacies you work with. It is also important that you find out whether your EMR vendor charges extra for setting the interface up.
Using EMR Software to Meet Meaningful Use Requirements
Eligible providers looking to qualify for the Medicare and Medicaid EMR incentive programs will need to start attesting to Meaningful Use by October 3, 2012 in order to receive the maximum incentive payment of $44,000. This means that healthcare professionals who haven't already implemented an EMR software system will need to get serious about finding a certified program and learning how to make meaningful use of it.
According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), for providers to attest to Meaningful Use, they need to be able to show that they are using certified EMR technology in order to achieve established objectives. The objectives have been broken down into three phases: stage 1 focusing on data capture and sharing, stage 2 on advanced clinical processes, and stage 3 on improved outcomes.
The first stage of Meaningful Use focused primarily on getting providers to use EMR software and move away from paper charts, resulting in record EMR adoption rates over the last couple of years. The next two phases, however, will make greater use of health information exchanges and other health IT technologies in order to further improve patient care. Providers looking ahead to stage 2 will want to consider implementing EMR software with built-in patient portal capabilities or that can interface with patient portal applications, seeing as online portals are going to be an important resource for delivering quality care and building more comprehensive health records.
EMR Vendor Spotlight
Healthcare software and services company Bizmatics offers a range of intuitive and cost-effective EMR, practice management, and patient portal software designed to make managing a medical practice easier and more profitable. Their PrognoCIS EMR system is CCHIT and ONC-ATCB certified to help practitioners meet meaningful use requirements in 2012. More Information.
EMR Software Reviews
Last Updated: June 15, 2012