What's the difference between an EMR and an EHR?
Generally an EMR (electronic medical record) contains the standard medical and clinical data gathered in one provider’s office - pretty much like paper charts. However, EHRs (electronic health records) reach beyond the data collected in the one provider’s office and include a more comprehensive history of the client. EHRs are developed to collect and share information from all
providers involved in a client’s care and that information can move with the client to other types of healthcare providers, clinicians, hospitals, specialists etc. as needed.
How would an EHR system help us better care for our clients?
Although paper records and EMR systems allow you to document a client's medical and behavioral health information, analyzing, utilizing and sharing this data with other healthcare providers and organizations is nearly impossible. An EHR system allows you to easily track all types of data over a period of time AND it provides an easy way to use the data that not only you collect, but what all of a client's providers are gathering.
Is an EHR system really worth the cost?
Let's take a quick "Exam" for your practice:
Start thinking about how much time, energy and other resources are consumed every day, with every client. That adds up to a lot, doesn't it?
- Do you have lag time in processing claims or having too many claims denied?
- Are you experiencing issues with inaccurate or missed billing?
- Do you feel there is a lot of time wasted with tracking down, prepping or filing (re-filing) charts?
- Is it difficult to verify a client's allergies and medications?
- Do your providers and staff have to repeat the same information over and over on different forms?
- Do you get frustrated with notes being completed and signed off on in a timely manner?
- Do your clients' messages get to the right person and are they answered as quickly as you would like?
- Are you concerned about the constantly changing government requirements and complying with them?
If you answered yes to any of the questions above, then a discussion about an EHR is at least worth your time!
We have an EHR system that just doesn't work for us, now what?
Believe it or not, this is a common complaint we've heard a lot, especially from practice managers, providers and clinicians who bought a solution early on. With so many options now, there should be a solution available that works for you. It may be ours, or it may not be. The reality is if your EHR system is not making life easier for you and your providers and resulting in better care coordination for your clients, you deserve to take another look.
What should we do first?
The better prepared you are before talking with potential EHR vendors, the more you'll understand the benefits and potential downfalls of their particular software and how it could impact your office. Here are a few things you can do ahead of time. Make a list of the features you need from an EHR system. Things like e-prescribing software, scheduling features, secure messaging and patient portal services. Map out your current and ideal patient and practice workflows to determine how the EHR software could compliment them.
Besides monthly licensing or access fees, there could be additional costs for hardware, implementation, training, and maintenance. Determine a realistic budget for what you could spend towards an EHR system and remember, an EHR system should save you money down the road. Also determine what type of post-installation support you will need. Most EHR vendors offer 24/7 but the type and extent of support may vary. e.g. If your practice is open beyond normal office hours you may need nighttime or weekend support, assistance with installing new features, additional training or customization requests.
Finally, it never hurts to see how another office is using the EHR software your are considering. Ask the potential vendor to supply a contact that is using their software so you can see it in use first hand, and read some accounts of how others have made the transition. Success Stories