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In the battle for organization, health professionals have an uphill battle.
Billing is more complicated than the human genome.
Government regulations add additional steps to each task.
Decisions are time-sensitive.
Small mistakes can have serious consequences.
In addition, everyone is busy. There is no extra time to look for a patient record or reorder an incorrect prescription.
The best electronic health record (EMR) systems can simplify many of the complex challenges faced by today's providers.
You are by no means a silver bullet, but when you find a product that is right for your practice, you will be more efficient today and better prepared for tomorrow.
Here are the top EMR systems that will help improve care, reduce burnout, and make everyday life less stressful for everyone who walks in the door.
The four main options for EMR systems
- CareCloud – Best for growing specialty practices
- athenahealth – Best for switching to a new system
- SimplePractice – Best for health and wellness providers
- Kareo – Best for independent practices
The different types of EMR systems
Not so long ago, EMR systems were the tool used to turn paper maps into digital resources. They made it easier to access and track patient data.
People still need these features, but you will see very few standalone EMR systems today. Instead, you will find that EMR systems are part of a larger electronic health record (EHR) system.
EMR vs EHR Systems
Here is the main difference between the two:
- Electronic health records are a digitized version of a patient record.
- Electronic health records Contains information from all of the clinicians involved in patient care.
EMR systems allow people within the company to access a patient record. On the other hand, EHR systems allow medical records to be shared between multiple providers, laboratories and insurers.
This ability to share full EHRs is critical in today's healthcare environment.
You may already know the reasons why EMR systems are phased out in favor of EHRs. I won't go into any further detail here, although you can certainly read about it if interfering with health legislation blows your hair back (see specifically the HITECH law).
Suffice it to say that new laws and changes in technology have made EHR systems essential.
However, this can be confusing.
Many providers still have to digitize and organize the work in their office. EMR systems are perfect for this, and so there is still a lot of online searches for the term.
And because people are asking about EMR systems on the internet, you see vendors offering “EMR systems” and directing you to their EHR or calling their products EMR / EHR solutions.
Some providers appear to be using EHR and EMR interchangeably. They will likely continue to do so as long as people are looking for EMRs.
For all the cloudiness and craziness of the situation, vendors who need an EMR system today are only looking at two main product categories:
- EHR systems
- Practice management suites
Let's go over both of them so you can figure out which one will help get your practice where it needs to be.
I'll still be talking about EMR systems, but all I know is that this will be part of a solution with a different name.
Electronic health records
EHR systems include everything a traditional EMR system provider needs to run their practice online. You can digitize charts, link them to schedules, and make each patient visit as efficient as possible.
For practices that want to go paperless, these products can be extremely helpful. They will help you turn filing cabinets into searchable digital drives. This saves doctors, nurses, and staff so much time that they can have quick access to whatever they need from any device.
In addition to tracking patient records, EHR systems help with:
- Laboratory work and tests
With that in mind, an EHR follows the patient and gives all parties involved in patient care the information they need to move the process forward.
In most cases, EHR software is offered as part of a full suite of tools for managing a practice. Providers like Kareo and athenahealth offer standalone EHR systems that can be a good starting point for the online transition.
Practice management suites
A practice management suite is used to centralize all administrative, clinical, financial and legal processes on a single platform.
In addition to the EMR / EHR functions, they include:
- Advanced reporting
- Patient loyalty
- Revenue Cycle Management
As robust as these solutions are, they are not only suitable for large companies. In fact, these products work very well in the small practice.
With limited staff, solo providers simply don't have the time to manage 7 or 8 different tools to interact with each patient. Practice management suites are highly customizable so that providers can standardize their workflow and reduce it to the essential elements.
Small practices also benefit from the extensive reporting functions.
Data visualization dashboards and tools help providers understand trends in clinical data. This can help practices reduce waiting times, improve patient loyalty, meet regulatory goals, and better manage risk.
How to choose the best EMR system for you
The right EMR system provides support for overworked staff by streamlining critical administrative tasks.
The wrong EMR system can make the situation worse.
According to a study by the American Medical Association, the average family doctor spends 86 minutes a day doing administrative tasks after leaving work.
This so-called "pajama time" has become a terrible reality for any doctor stuck with a well-intentioned but poorly-functioning EMR system.
Not only doctors are affected. Nurses, employees, pharmacists and, above all, patients suffer from the consequences of inefficient systems.
Just knowing which solutions are popular is not enough. Sometimes a good system is poorly implemented or deployed in a place where it doesn't fit.
How do you choose an EMR system that will actually benefit staff and patients?
There isn't an easy answer, but following these three steps will help you focus on the right product.
Understand the features you really need
Every EMR solution contains an astonishing number of features. Most people will never use the majority of them.
It is not surprising that these systems are designed for different types of physicians in a variety of clinical settings.
Start your search with a list of the most important features and functions. Each product comes with digitized charts and patient tracking. But what does that mean for your practice?
In other words, what system has the features to help receptionists, nurses, doctors, and patients get from A to B? How are the individual functions assigned to your actual patient flows?
A to B is an oversimplification, but also not. One of the most common complaints about EMR systems is that routine tasks take too long to complete.
Ordering a prescription or procedure shouldn't mean scrolling through hundreds of irrelevant options. If an e-prescribing solution is in a solution, make sure it can be customized to actually save time.
The more A-to-B tasks your EMR system streamlines, the more time all staff have to spend treating patients.
Consider a special option
A welcome trend is the growing number of EMR systems that are tailored for specialty practices.
I like these because they solve two problems associated with traditional, commonly used EMRs.
First, providers get exactly the tools they need, rather than a platform with unnecessary features.
Second, each feature has the appropriate depth for the specialty in question. Laser settings are automatically recorded in charts for dermatologists. Orthopedic surgeons can easily share imaging results in large files.
Instead of workflows and templates for the “textbook clinic”, these products meet the specific requirements of today's specialists.
Prepare for integration and implementation
It's much easier to deploy an EMR system that is integrated with the billing, imaging, and other platforms you use.
Some EMRs centralize these responsibilities on a single platform. If this is the path you are going, what will it be like moving everything from multiple platforms?
Moving from paper to EMR or from one EMR to another is not taxable under any circumstances. If the pieces of the puzzle don't fit together, things can be worse.
To make the most of a tough challenge, find a provider willing to move data from your existing platform to theirs as part of the deployment.
I definitely recommend reading reviews from actual customers about the type of service they will receive during and after implementation. If you are supposed to have a dedicated service agent, how dedicated are they?
It is not 100% up to the provider either. What kind of internal IT support makes life easier for everyone? Sub-budget for this at your own risk.
The qualification of a few “super-user” employees who can solve problems on-site goes a long way towards compensating for the daily frustrations of migrating to a new system.
# 1 – CareCloud – Best for growing specialty practices
CareCloud is a practice management suite that gives doctors more time to spend with their patients and more resources to invest in their practice.
It brings together the tools providers need to manage every step of the patient relationship in their specific environment. Users can customize charts, reuse job sets, and share content with their colleagues.
The decision support functions are well advanced. This reduces the potential for medical error by promptly reporting issues such as dangerous drug combinations and dietary restrictions.
Quality chart data not only provides real-time information at the point of care, but also leads to extensive reports in CareCloud.
Track key performance indicators, get an instant overview of how things are, and see how they develop.
The EMR and Revenue Cycle Management functions work very well together. Providers can use what they discover to improve the quality of patient care and better guide a small practice over financial and regulatory hurdles.
One of the reasons CareCloud works so well is because it has 24 dedicated solutions. These offer providers who would otherwise not be able to configure their system an enormous amount of functionality that is immediately ready for use.
For pain therapy, physiotherapy, podiatry, proctology, pulmonology – and these are just the Ps – clinicians and doctors can work on CareCloud right away.
Some of the highlights of CareCloud are:
- Patient flows in real time
- Patient portal
- Drag and drop planning
- Reporting on quality initiatives
In addition, they make many additional tools available to Specialist Practices through their content store. Find insurance, billing, planning, and record solutions created by other vendors in your particular area.
You need to get in touch with CareCloud for pricing, whether you want to use Charts – the EHR module – or the entire practice management platform.
This is a great option for specialty practices looking to grow. CareCloud streamlines every process – from insurance to patient handover – by providing everything a specialist needs without bloating.
# 2 – athenahealth – Best for switching to a new system
athenahealth consistently develops trustworthy health software for hospital systems, small private practices and everything in between.
They offer a full suite for practice management, athenaOne, which offers EHR, billing, patient engagement, population health, care coordination and Epokrates, a top-notch mobile app.
Alternatively, providers can use athenaClinicals, the EHR component from athenaOne. Your products work well with many other options on the market, so the practices don't have to migrate all systems at the same time.
This makes it a great option for practices where EMR / EHR is an important step in the gradual process of future-proofing their entire practice.
One of the greatest attractions of athenaClinicals is the ease of navigation. It's a really smart platform that is constantly populating patient data and prioritizing important information.
Many of the platform's recommendations come from trends picked up on your network, such as: B. Routine processes and orders. If a particular drug is frequently prescribed to patients seen for treatment, it is right there with no search involved.
Stop struggling with ever-changing procedural codes and insurance protocols. athenahealth monitors the quality programs of the federal government and makes best practices available immediately.
Some of the other standout features are:
- Secure voice, text and email reminders
- Patient portal
- Decision support
- Extensive coverage
- App marketplace
While the user interface is great, there is a learning curve because the platform is so deep. In other words, the control that makes athenahealth such a great long-term solution takes a little getting used to in the short term.
I think it's worth it because it's the last tool employees will ever have to learn.
The platform has proven capable of handling the toughest healthcare IT environments.
Never switch again.
The athenahealth integrated suite cost is based on a percentage of the monthly collections. The idea is for them to work with your practice instead of contracting you and charging you for upgrades.
You do well when you do well. Many companies report that increased billing and collections efficiency almost completely offsets the cost, not to mention the impact on the overall practice.
Athena's customer support has a solid reputation and they have a lot of experience in helping customers transfer their data securely.
If you get stuck on paper or have a system that doesn't make it, athenahealth will do everything it can to make you their next satisfied member.
# 3 – SimplePractice – Best for health and wellness providers
SimplePractice is an affordable practice management suite that delivers value to therapists, dietitians, social workers, and other mental health and wellness providers.
This is a great price for small clinics and private practices that want to centralize charts, notes, appointments, insurance, and bills on one intuitive platform.
There is a patient portal so that both sides benefit from the accessibility. Customers can upload documents and even book their own appointments (on your terms, of course).
SimplePractice offers vendors the opportunity to meet with their clients regardless of where they are from or how they may enter.
Thanks to functions such as paperless admission, online booking and HIPAA-compliant telehealth solutions, every consultation can be securely managed online.
Not every community has the local resources to help those in need of care. And even if patients have an office nearby, taking time to make appointments can be a problem.
SimplePractice can help providers keep in touch with customers no matter how busy or far away they are.
It's great for a whole practice, but SimplePractice focuses on the EMR features and offers:
- Template library
- Diagnostic and treatment plans
- Searchable ICD-10 Codes
- Secure text messaging
- Appointment reminders
There are also customizable patient enrollment forms and surveys that providers can use to ask questions correctly. You can be sensitive and specific, and leave enough space for people to share their thoughts.
They offer plans for solo practice starting at $ 39 / month.
Group exercise prices start at $ 98 / month for 2 clinicians. Each additional user is $ 39 / month.
As with other platforms, functions such as telemedicine and billing are chargeable. With SimplePractice, however, the additional costs are transparent: $ 10 / month per user for telemedicine and electronic application starting at 25 ¢ per application.
Practices that don't need these features or use something else don't pay, and those who do have a predictable cost at the end of the month.
Predictable, affordable and complete. This is SimplePractice. Try it for free for 30 days.
The switching team will help you import and live support is included in every plan.
# 4 – Kareo – Best for Independent Practices
Kareo is a complete practice management solution tailored to the specific needs of an independent practice.
That is their focus. You never have to worry about competing with massive hospitals for their attention.
Kareo is not a reduced hospital software. The platform consists of three integrated modules: Clinical, Billing and Engage.
There aren't a million components to make up the entire system, and more importantly, each part works on its own.
For example, if a company just needs a reliable EHR, Kareo Clinical has everything it needs.
Charts are easy to read and have space for notes. They feel simple, despite the wealth of information you can add. Kareo is optimized for all screen sizes, so providers can prescribe a medication or generate an invoice from any device in minutes.
The electronic prescribing capabilities save providers time and patients money. With Kareo's built-in prescription discounts, clinicians can compare prices and make savings for their patients.
They have lots of great templates and forms that can be quickly customized, as well as features that streamline routine documentation.
Other helpful tools are:
- Patient portal
- Customizable dashboards
- Secure messaging
- Decision support
- Extensive coverage
- App marketplace
Kareo flowcharts are one of the most useful reporting features that clinicians can use to view a patient's key vital signs and laboratory results over time. This makes it easy to analyze progress and track multiple aspects of a patient's health at the same time.
None of these great features take long to master. There are self-service online resources like Kareo University that many users find helpful.
But you are not alone After you have signed up, you will receive a free Kareo success trainer for the first 60 days to help you transfer and digitize files.
Customer support is available by phone, email, and chat to answer any questions about insurance billing.
For independent practices that want efficient and easy medical record management, Kareo Clinical will outperform.
It is difficult to provide high quality care.
This is the root of the problem with finding a working EMR system. Often times, people put off moving to a better system because it is so painful.
Kareo and athenahealth do a lot to simplify the process. Independent practices should choose Kareo as it is tailored to their needs. For everyone else, athenahealth is a reliable long-term solution, regardless of how their practice evolves over time.
In terms of specialty practices, CareCloud will be the easiest to use. So much of the backend organization has already been done. Templates and forms are ready to use out of the box and you don't have to sort through irrelevant options.
For those who work in the health and wellness field, SimplePractice is a perfect platform. It offers competitive, predictable pricing and a host of features to help nurture the most sensitive patient relationships.