Ten years ago, electronic health record (EHR) systems started gaining traction, and that was before things like Meaningful Use and PQRS motivated physicians to adopt an EHR. Back then, the government had minimal involvement in EHR adoption, and much of it was actually driven by smaller practices looking for ways to streamline processes and get a better handle on patient data.
Many early adopters have upgraded since then, and providers in general now expect much more from their EHR software, particularly as they relate to the many government-backed incentive programs. But if you're ready to upgrade, what should you look for in an EHR?
Choosing to switch to a different EHR isn't always easy. With hundreds of systems to choose from today, decision makers are overwhelmed with EHR evaluation criteria, finding time to research an EHR and then there are the online demonstrations. It might not be your kind of "fun" but if you know what you're looking for, it can be a bit easier.
Here are 6 must-have features to look for when you're considering switching to a different EHR software.
1) Interface Customization
Customizing your practice or facility's interface with, say, a radiology vendor, is not only nice to have, but advisable.
Imagine having an incoming interface that supports automatic attachment of solicited and unsolicited radiology results to patient records, plus a convenient image viewer.
Customizing your communication with your specialists is also helpful to today's practice, to minimize errors and miscommunications and maximize the utility of patient test results and data to both, you and specialists, to whom you refer patients.
2) Patient-Provider Communication Tools
Patients increasingly expect online communication tools, with conveniences like online bill payment and online appointment scheduling at the very least. These tools assist your practice as well, helping you book open slots more conveniently and collect revenues without the hassle of mail and paper statements.
Patient interface apps, and mobile reminders are other popular features patients are starting to expect, and you should require your EHR to accommodate them so you can maintain your reputation as leading-edge healthcare providers.
[Also: How to Avoid Revenue Loss During an EHR Transition]
3) Referral Network Communications
You may have said to yourself, "It's 2016. Why are we still faxing paper referrals?" The right EHR system can cut down significantly on this outdated process, allowing you to make referrals and securely share summary of care records with other providers on your network.
A top EHR solution will not only allow you to develop easy communication with other providers that use the same EHR, but also have fast, secure communication with providers that may use a different EHR solution, further reducing your reliance on fax machines.
4) Mobile Friendliness
Mobile friendliness is a necessity. Clinicians are on the go and need to have quick and secure access to patient information. When looking into other EHR systems, make sure you ask about the usability and functionality of the EHR on a phone and a tablet.
When switching to an EHR you can also find a system that has mobile options for your patients. Some EHR systems will support patient communication apps, allowing patients to confirm or reschedule appointments, access health records, manage medications, and more all from their smart phone.
5) Reporting to Support Population Health Management
The amount of patient data being generated today is astounding, and it has the potential to improve population health management and reduce healthcare costs dramatically. But collecting data is only so useful: you have to be able to report on it and do so easily and in meaningful ways.
However involved your practice is with big data, you should select your EHR partly based on its ability to collect, manage, and report on data. Even if you're not regularly creating population health reports now, you may be doing so in the future and your EHR should be prepared.
[Also: 5 Mistakes to Avoid When Hiring a Medical Billing Service]
6) Telehealth Functions (Should at the Least Be on Your Radar)
Telehealth, or telemedicine, has grown in importance over the past few years, and legislation on state and federal levels is making it an increasingly attractive option for many providers.
Your EHR system can facilitate the transition to providing telehealth services, or it can stand in the way. You're wise to ask questions of EHR vendors about telehealth compatibility, and should expect such features to at least be on their horizon, if not operational.
Your selection of an EHR solution is one of the most important business decisions your practice can make. If your only experience with an EHR is with earlier generation software that was limited in capability and interoperability, you'll be pleased to learn just how far EHR technology has come in the past couple of years.
In 2015 nearly 60% of clinicians were in the market to replace their EHR. Dissatisfaction with EHRs is the top reason for replacement purchases, according to the 2015 EHR Software BuyerView report. Of those unhappy shoppers, 24 percent say their current EHR system "is too cumbersome or faulty."
Are you dissatisfied with your EHR software? With features like Messenger, Healow, and industry-leading interoperability, it's no wonder that just last year 90% of the new 1,000 practices on eClinicalWorks switched from another EHR.
Avoid declining reimbursement during the switch to a new EHR with GroupOne's OneRate. Our team of eClinicalWorks billing specialists and eClinicalWorks implementation experts can help your practice switch to eClinicalWorks without losing revenue. Schedule a personalized demonstration of eClinicalWorks EHR today and see how less clicks, a fully unified platform, and custom data migration packages can help your practice make the switch to an award winning EHR software.