An electronic health record software, also called EHR Software, securely stores the medical information of patients—including medication lists, lab results, visit notes, and patient and provider communications. Physicians from around the world are increasingly taking advantage of EHR solutions in order to track the medical progress of their patients and help them remain compliant with national and international healthcare regulations. EHRs are stored securely on a central server, allowing them to be accessed by multiple providers and healthcare professionals as and when required. Electronic health records can either be stored locally in a physician’s office or be cloud-based.
Before commencing the actual buying process for EHR solutions, one must have clarification about the below criteria:
- The number of licensed physicians in the practice
- The number of locations the practice has
- Type of practice:
- Primary care
- Physical therapy/chiropractic, etc.
- Type of solution:
- Practice Management Software
- Patient Management Software
- Dental Billing Software
- Medical Billing Service, etc.
Extensive research is recommended when choosing an EHR software for one’s medical practice. It is essential to involve all the providers in the medical practice, as well as other key decision makers, in the selection process. As the entire team will be using the system, the importance of their feedback is significant.
Steps to consider when selecting the best EHR software
- Research the Market- One can begin their research by reviewing the recent trends and popular brands in the market. User reviews also help find out which EHR application performed well for what type of user. Seeking opinions from peers who have a similar specialty practice also helps in making effective buying decisions.
- Identification of Priorities- For important solutions like EHR, one size does not fit all. Therefore, priority plays a significant role when selecting the perfect EHR solution for one’s practice. A few of the questions to consider include: Do you want a software that is user-friendly and easy to learn? Do you need software with a low implementation period? Do you want a budget solution that provides all the core features? It becomes easy to identify and list down one’s priorities after understanding the intricacies of various software solutions.
- Listing Candidates- After prioritizing the key features one needs, it becomes easy to list down software that seems to meet the requirements. Once listed, each vendor can be contacted directly for price quotes and understanding of features.
- Shortlisting- Once a long list is prepared, solutions can be eliminated until only the top three vendors remain. Once this is done, sales representatives can be contacted for requesting demonstrations for members of the practice and other stakeholders.
- Live Software Demonstration- During demonstrations, vendors often focus on the tools that the potential client is interested in—for instance, if one is interested in a Practice Management solution as well as an EMR system, the sales representative may demonstrate and explain the benefits of both modules. At this stage, one can note down the important features and share the details of the demonstration with others in the practice.
- Compare Contracts/Agreements- After the demonstration is completed, one can request an agreement or contract from the vendors that appealed to them. The agreements can be compared and checked for favorable terms. It is also recommended to confirm whether all the features shown and promises made during the demonstration are clearly outlined in the contract.
It is also necessary to know the laws and regulation before selecting any software for your company or personal use. This will ensure the user of the software does not run into any issues and has a better advantage in the market due to availability of incentives or subsidies if available.
Importance of laws and regulations involving EHR systems
The US government has constantly advocated for the adoption of EHR software in healthcare organizations and promoted the meaningful use of these systems through financial incentives and penalties. The introduction of regulations like Medicare Access CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA) and the Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) has clearly outlined these incentives and penalties for healthcare organizations. Essentially, healthcare organizations that score well on the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ (CMS) list of criteria might receive positive adjustments to their Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements, while those that score low might incur penalties.
Apart from promoting the meaningful use of Best EHR software, the US government has given prime importance to privacy and security through the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act. These regulations administer everything from how an individual organization handles and stores patient data, to how multiple organizations share data, to how third parties must conduct themselves when handling healthcare data on behalf of a provider.