How to Choose the Right EMR? | EHR and Health IT Consulting | Scoop.it

MR is an acronym for Electronic Medical Records.

EMR is a computer based electronic system for maintaining patient data.

EMR systems are intended to keep track of patient’s entire health and medical history in a computerized format instead of the paper and folders that occupy entire racks and sometimes rooms in a clinic. These records grow over time and it become increasingly difficult to manage them. EMR makes these records more easily retrievable.

 

EMR systems have not been adopted by physicians and providers of healthcare as quickly as they should have been. There are several issues and reasons ranging from cost, issues of privacy, standardization and above all, physicians lack of knowledge of computerized systems and adaptability.

An ideal EMR should be able to provide complete, accurate, and timely data, alerts, reminders, communications, and other help at all points of care for all healthcare professionals at all times in a way that quality of healthcare can be dramatically improved. However, these promising functions are far from being realized in current EMR, and the resistance to current EMR from healthcare professionals is still strong.

 

Will this dream ever be realized? Will EMR ever be accepted universally by healthcare professionals? What is wrong with EMR?

Paper based records are still the preferred method of recording patient information for most physicians and providers, rather than EMR. The majority of doctors still find their ease of data entry in paper versus EMR and low cost hard to part with. However, as easy as they are for the doctor to record medical data at the point of care on paper, they require a significant amount of storage space compared to EMR. Most states require physical records be held for a minimum of seven years. The costs of storage on paper including the space it requires is much higher as compared to EMR. When paper records are stored in different locations, getting them to a single location for review by a provider is time consuming and complicated, whereas the process can be simplified with EMR.

Because of so many benefits of EMR, federal and state governments, insurance companies and other large medical institutions are heavily promoting the adoption of EMR across the country. Congress included a formula of both incentives (up to $44K per physician under Medicare or up to $65K over 6 years, under Medicaid) and penalties (i.e. decreased Medicare/Medicaid reimbursements for covered patients to doctors who fail to use EMR’s by 2015) for EMR/EHR adoption versus continued use of paper records as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

How to Choose the Right EMR?

There are many factors that should go into deciding which EMR software is the best for your practice. There are some key EMR areas that must be decided before you can commit to any EMR. There are literally 100s of EMR software today and choosing the right EMR can be the difference between success and failure.

First and foremost, EMR software must be Certified under the new ARRA guidelines.

Ease of Use

Any EMR software must be easy to use. If you have EMR software that is difficult to use, it might be time to scrap it and look for another EMR software solution. A big mistake many practices make is once they choose an EMR software company, they feel as if they are stuck with them. This should not be the case. Your best option would be to choose the right software for your practice the first time, but this doesn’t always happen.

Software Updates

In the ever-changing EMR world, updates are key more so given that requirements from ONC are changing everyday and requires EMR companies to be certified and re-certified. Software that is current one week, is out-of-date the next week. How often does your EMR software company provide updates? Are they releasing critical updates often? With web-based technology, EMR vendors are now able to update servers quickly, thus updating the software is painless.

Cost

The cost of everything is going up, and EMR software is no exception. EMR software companies have raised their rates drastically in the last 5 years. While many physicians are aware of the cost that an EMR solution requires, make sure your EMR software vendor is not ripping you off. There are lots of Great EMR solutions out there and some are drastically cheaper than others. Look for a Certified Web Based EMR that has all the bells and whistles but will not rip your pocket.

Support

If you are having a problem with your EMR Software, you might need to call support. This is inevitably going to happen so make sure you know who to call in case your EMR software is not working properly. How good is your vendor’s EMR software support? Will they be able to solve my problem fast and easily?