Electronic Health Records (EHR) are increasingly used in the healthcare arena producing wide-ranging benefits for practices and patients alike. As well as streamlining processes, saving on physical space through the digitization of records, and increasing productivity, EHRs allow healthcare practices, large and small alike, to better engage with patients throughout their treatment process.
If you’re a small healthcare practice considering switching to an EHR provider, consider some of these essential things.
Biggest May Not Mean Best for You
Several larger EHR software providers are in the market with instantly recognizable names to healthcare professionals. However, many of these providers will be well-known because their solutions have been designed for more extensive healthcare settings such as hospitals and large clinics. As a result, their offerings are often complex, expensive, and unwieldy to use in a small practice setting.
Ensure the EHR is User-Friendly
Transferring to an EHR can be an expensive initial investment, so it’s essential to choose the right one before committing to software installations and support contracts. Test the system and determine how it interacts with your existing workflow processes. The idea of switching to an EHR is to make life for your practice staff easier, so choosing one that is user-friendly, intuitive, and will deliver benefits to the way your practice works is vital.
It’s equally important to think about your practice staff and their skillsets when considering moving to an EHR. Some systems will be designed to interact with other systems, which could add layers of complexity that may not be required for your needs, particularly if you are looking for a small practice EHR. Involve your staff in the decision-making process, find out what will add the most value to their workflow and procedures, and enhance patient care quality.
Consider an Integrated Patient Portal
Many EHRs on the market today can remove a lot of time and effort from your reception and administration team by automating patient-facing interactions in a portal. For example, using an EHR, patients can arrange, cancel and re-book appointments themselves online, while healthcare providers can use the portal to communicate lab and test results to patients.
With time such a valuable commodity at small practices, staff can reinvest the time saved on these menial tasks more productively, adding much more value to patients and healthcare staff.
Allow for Quality Reporting
The best EHRs for small practices will provide a reporting suite that should simplify the reporting process and hold a range of templates for your practice’s most popular and regularly required types of reports. In addition, since the needs of each healthcare practice will be unique, you may need the ability to build custom reports. The better the EHR system, the easier it will be to create custom reports either by yourself or with your provider’s support.
Choose a system that can allow reports to be updated in real-time and accessed remotely where information might be required quickly by somebody off-site. The best cloud-based EHRs for small practices also offer the ability to drill down into individual notes and user-cases where required providing greater context into the analysis.
Choose a Provider That Will Include Scalability for Growth
All healthcare practices should be planning for the expansion of their patient base. Today’s small practice could be in a location where development is planned, bringing a massive influx of new patients. When selecting a small practice EHR, it’s essential to choose a provider that will be able to meet your growth needs as you expand.
Do your research on a range of providers and look at case histories. Have they had experience supporting healthcare practices that have undergone significant growth? Choose a company with a large existing customer base that crosses several parts of the healthcare industry, ensure they are updated with all their industry certifications and find a vendor that provides outstanding customer service. This will be a long-term relationship, so it is vital to find someone with their customer’s interests and needs front and center of their offering.
Easily Useable with Other Systems
The ability for an EHR to interact with other patient systems is one of the significant advantages a small practice EHR can provide. Making sure that the software you choose can communicate with other health channels, such as Health Information Exchanges (HIEs), Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs), and national online networks, will further improve your practice’s productivity and enhance the patient experience.
Spend time speaking with providers about how the best EHR systems for small practices interact with these channels and how they can operate in conjunction with clinics, labs, and hospitals in your area. Choosing a system that quickly speaks to other systems within your area will allow previously manual tasks such as referral management and the receipt of lab and test results to be significantly simplified.
Look at Cloud-Based Solutions
Many of the most effective EHR systems for small practices will be cloud-hosted. As well as providing better value for money than a bespoke solution, the best cloud-based EHRs for small practices also offer peace of mind by ensuring that patient records are kept encrypted and secure. By hosting the documents on the cloud, all documents are hosted off-site in a server room and will be handled by your service provider.
This has additional advantages in the fact that you will be saving on physical space by not needing to store the documents on-site any longer, which could be of benefit as your practice expands but should any storm damage, fire, or another type of disaster strike your building, the records will be safely untouched on in their datacenter.
Work to a Budget
Different small practices will be working to different budgets. With a range of suppliers offering varying solutions, there should be something that will suit your needs within your budget. Choosing a small practice EHR will typically see you working with a provider that is used to working with budgets and will be able to show flexibility to create a solution that meets your requirements but does not break the bank.
The cheaper solutions, such as Nue MD, can start from $99/month, offering EHR, practice management, billing services, and a mobile app as standard. Other features include e-prescriptions, appointment scheduling, and an interactive patient portal.
More expensive solutions, such as PrognoCIS, begins at $250/month, offering charting, billing, appointment management, e-prescriptions, handwriting recognition, and the interactive patient portal. One big selling point of PrognoCIS is that it is suitable for solo practitioners and small practices right through to large clinical settings.
Although the initial investment can be costly, EHRs for small practices quickly prove cost-effective, providing value for money and many other benefits to you, your training, staff, and most crucially, your patients.