Electronic Medical Records (EMRs) are a reality. Due to a carrot and stick approach in the form of penalties and incentives, a large number of practices are joining the EMR bandwagon and rightly so. The convenience and efficiency that an EMR software brings to your practice can never be overstated. However, the other side of the coin is that some software providers are indulging in mis-selling by incorrectly representing the features of their EMR software. Thus, it is very important for you to identify certain non-negotiable features that you are looking for.
In this article, we discuss 7 features an ideal EMR software should include.
- Easy Billing – At the end of the day, billing is what keeps your practice floating and helps you serve your patients. An effective EMR software will make billing easy for you by optimising the billing process and making it fast and without any complicated steps. There are a few characteristics that you need to look for in the EMR software that you are considering, namely, whether it can generate bills directly from patient charts, whether it can collect payments and whether it makes it easier to send bills to the payers.
- Efficient Scheduling – While deciding upon an EMR software, one of the crucial tasks is comparing EMR software. In the process, the scheduling features of the various available options need to be seriously analysed. Registration of patients, scheduling appointments and identifying the right consultant with reference to the purpose of the visit should be simple tasks in the system dashboard. In order to save time and resources, the EMR software should allow you to send automated text messages and emails to the appointments. Your staff should be able to make the best use of the scheduling features.
- E-prescribing – Needless to say, the EMR software you opt for should offer e-prescribing. Not only should you be able to generate digital and physical versions of the required medications but the EMR software should integrate the e-prescription software to the medical history of the patient to link and identify any past allergic reactions to the medication that you are prescribing. Further, the software should then link the prescription to the pharmacies so that when the patient goes for a refill, he or she is not burdened with unnecessary paperwork. Notification systems should be useful for patients.
- Enable Charting – Let’s face it. Charting is a task which takes a lot of the doctors’ and nurses’ time. If everything can be faster and easier through the use of software, there is no reason for charting to remain the manual labour that it is. An ideal EMR software will ensure that professionals spend less time in front of a computer screen and more time dealing with the patient. In fact, there is a study by Northwestern University which indicates that doctors who spend more time on computer screens may miss non-verbal clues from patients which might signal important information about their health.
- Lab Integration – Lab integration is one of the most crucial features you can expect from an EMR. This would obviously be very relevant if your practice is solely dependent on lab work. An ideal EMR software will help you make bookings, track the collection of the samples, its processing, report generation and delivery to the patient. Availability of information and testing codes, constant updates from testing centres and linking of test results with patient’s medical records are some of the features that you must look for in an EMR.
- HIPAA Compliance – HIPAA stands for the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. There are certain regulations under the Act that you need to comply with especially when it comes to medical information and health data of patients. Your EMR software should be built of HIPAA compliant servers so that the data of the patients is safe and secure.
- Patient Portal – Patient portal is one of the must-have EMR features for healthcare practice. The patient portal should include:
- Health related information.
- Tests undertaken
- Status of test results
- Immunization history
- Chronic illness, if any
- History of visits
- Option of scheduling appointments
- Contact information
- Prescription information
- Payment modes
The choice of an EMR software will have a significant impact on your practice. Hence, it is necessary that you choose wisely. It makes a huge difference if healthcare practitioners themselves get involved in this process of choosing an EMR software as they are aware of the requirements. If this is not done correctly, then the management of clerical staff may purchase software that may not be suited to your practice. One of the upcoming concepts in the growth of EMR softwares is through the use of telemedicine. A forward looking EMR software will provide professional video conferencing between practitioners and patients with real time note taking possibilities.