If you’re looking to upgrade from paper records, Electronic Health Record (EHR) features might be on your mind. After all, an EHR system is only as good as the features it offers.
The problem? There are so many of them! And it looks like each EHR solution offers different features. So how can you pick the right EHR solution for your practice and finally leave old-fashioned paper medical records behind?
To help you make the best decision for your medical practice, we’ve put together a list of the best EHR features to look out for in 2022.
Learn more about each of these features and how they can benefit your clinic:
What is EHR Software?
EHR is the digitized version of a comprehensive patient health record. It covers a patient’s entire medical history and can be transferred between practices anywhere the patient goes.
EHR includes information such as:
- Medical charts
- Progress notes
- Immunization records
- Lab results
Due to its many features and benefits, as much as 90% of doctors use EHR systems in their practice. Some of the biggest benefits of upgrading to an EHR system include:
- Improved Patient Care. Doctors have instant access to crucial information such as patients’ past diagnoses, medication interactions, allergies, and recommended treatments at the click of a button.
- Coordination Between Practices. EHR can be easily transferred between practices, ensuring seamless coordination between clinics, labs, and referred specialists.
- Simplified Document Management. Record keeping and document drafting are made easier with note and reporting templates along with a centralized virtual location for storage and easy access.
- Improved Productivity and Efficiency. EHR automates a lot of tasks, freeing up your staff for more demanding functions, reducing clerical errors, and saving a lot of time.
- Enhanced Security. Your patient records are kept safer using advanced encryption and security protocols. They are also protected from theft and physical damage that paper records are at risk of.
Running your own private practice? Check out the full breakdown of EHR benefits and features for small and private practices.
EHR vs EMR: Similarities & Differences
The terms Electronic Medical Record (EMR) and Electronic Health Record are often used interchangeably. However, they aren’t exactly the same thing. There are several key differences between EHR and EMR.
We’ve already covered the definition of EHR. But what exactly is EMR?
Electronic Medical Record (EMR) similar to EHR, is the digital version of a patient's medical records and charts. It includes the patient’s entire medical history within the practice.
Although both EHR and EMR contain similar information, EHR is more comprehensive. It contains the complete health history of the patient, including prior transferring to your clinic, and will follow the patient wherever they go.
EMR, on the other hand, includes only the medical history within your own practice and cannot easily be transferred to any other healthcare practice.
Are you considering upgrading to EHR? Check out our top EHR tips.
6 Essential EHR Features
We’ve already mentioned the benefits of EHR systems. Now, let’s get into the specific features that make it such an important addition to any medical practice.
Though there are many features that can vary from system to system, the most important EHR features to watch out for are:
#1. Online Booking
Online booking is one of the fundamental features of any good EHR system. It will make booking appointments easier for your patients while also making life easier for your receptionists and increasing your revenue.
In 2022, online accessibility is a must-have for any business. In fact, 80% of people search online for their medical needs. Not only is this a prime opportunity to attract new patients to your clinic, but it also means that patients expect to receive online services.
A quick and easy online booking system will also free up your staff for other tasks, boosting efficiency and improving the speed of your in-clinic service.
#2. Medical Billing
Medical billing is another essential feature for any EHR system. This tool makes it easier for both your patients and your staff to handle financial transactions.
A good billing module will allow you to conduct most financial activity within the platform, including generating invoices, tracking and managing payments, and handling any claims.
Like online booking, telemedicine is another online service that most patients have come to expect from their clinic in 2022. This tool makes medical consultations accessible to more patients, improving patient care while also increasing your customer base.
There are many cases where telemedicine can be useful, if not essential to any medical practice. It will help you engage with patients who:
- Are in quarantine or isolation.
- Have disabilities or limited mobility.
- Are traveling or live far away from your clinic.
- Prefer to attend consultations from the comfort of their own home.
#4. Medical CRM
Though doctors view those who come in for a visit as patients before anything else, it’s important to remember that they are also customers. Not only will this be good for business, but it can also improve the quality of patient care.
That’s why a medical Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tool is so important to have.
A good medical CRM will help you track all of your patient interactions, starting from the moment they first meet their doctor. It can give you crucial insight on areas of your service that are performing well and those that might need review.
#5. Reporting and analytics
Generating reports doesn’t have to be a super time-consuming, complicated task. With the right reporting and analytics tools, an EHR system can simplify your clinic’s reporting process.
This tool will allow you to quickly access any necessary information sources such as patient records, appointment logs, services and health packages purchased, or lab orders, to name a few.
In addition to the information-gathering aspect, a good reporting tool will also provide reporting templates that will automate a huge chunk of the reporting process.
#6. Inventory Management
Many EHR systems also incorporate an inventory management tool. This useful feature is often overlooked but shouldn’t be underestimated.
A huge part of running a clinic smoothly is keeping track of medications and consumable materials. With an inventory management tool, you can automatically keep track of what is used after each appointment.
This will ensure you never run out of materials and eliminate the waste of medications by keeping track of expiration dates.
8 Tips to Adopt EHR in Your Medical Practice
Now that we have gone over what features you should look out for in an EHR, it’s time to address implementation. How should you go about upgrading your records to an EHR system?
Here are some of our best tips and guidelines to switching over to EHR without any hiccups:
#1. Plan in Advance
Before you decide to take any steps, our biggest advice is to plan everything carefully first. There are clearly many benefits to using EHR, but it still isn’t a good idea to rush into it.
Some things you should consider beforehand include:
- How prepared are your employees to make this change? How many of your staff members are tech-savvy or familiar with medical systems and how many will need to be trained from scratch? Different members of your team may require a different amount of time to prepare and adapt.
- What are the implementation steps? It is best if an EHR system is adopted gradually. Adopting the different components and features one step at a time will make it easier for your staff to fully grasp the technology.
- How can you track and monitor the process? What kind of checkpoints can you create to track and measure achievements towards successful implementation?
#2. Create an Implementation Task Team
Not all members of your staff likely have the same level of tech skills. You will need a group of professionals who can ensure a smooth transition to EHR. This team should include different professionals from your clinic, such as:
- Administrative assistant
You should provide extra training to these professionals so that they can assist other staff members to figure out how to use the EHR system within their departments.
#3. Update Your Security Software
Before switching to an online system like EHR, it’s a great idea to first update your existing security software.
In fact, conducting a HIPAA security risk assessment is required by the HIPAA Security Rule and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Service Electronic Health Record Incentive Program.
You can do this by using the downloadable Security Risk Assessment Tool.
#4. Create a New Workflow
With the adoption of an EHR system the way most things are done will change, even if slightly. This means it’s time to design a new workflow that incorporates the EHR system and improves the clinic’s efficiency and the quality of patient care.
Your new workflow should add value to your patients’ care, speed up processes, and improve organization.
It is also a good idea to start implementing this change before your new EHR system is up and running. Giving your staff ample time to adjust to the new workflow will reduce errors as well as unnecessary stress among your employees.
#5. Train Your Staff
An essential step you should take before switching over to EHR is fully training your entire staff. This means you should take into consideration the individual levels of tech competency of each staff member and dedicate enough time to all of them.
Not only will this make the transition process much smoother, but it can also affect the performance and feelings of fulfillment among your staff.
With proper training, the members of your team will feel confident using the new EHR system and you’ll be able to reduce the rate of errors significantly.
#6. Provide Evaluations and Feedback
Training alone isn’t enough. We recommend that you provide ongoing evaluations and feedback, along with some follow-up training sessions when necessary.
After switching over to EHR and implementing it in your clinic’s everyday processes, some shortcomings will inevitably surface. This can be the case with quickly navigating patient records, misusing reports templates, or incorrect invoice generation.
With regular evaluations, you can quickly identify these issues, offer feedback, and provide follow-up training to iron out any flaws in the system.
#7. Encourage Staff Participation and Feedback
The evaluation process should go both ways. Not only is it important to evaluate your staff’s performance and give them feedback, but it’s also essential to receive feedback from your staff.
After all, they are the ones using the EHR system daily and thus will be pretty familiar with any problem areas it might have. By encouraging participation in evaluations, your staff will be empowered to overcome any roadblocks.
#8. Keep Things Patient Centred
When switching over to an electronic system, it can be easy to lose focus on what’s more important. Your patients.
One of the most important parts of implementing an EHR system is making sure that your medical staff and the clinic stay patient-centered rather than computer-centered. Along with basic EHR training that teaches them how to use the system, make sure to take the time to train your staff on how to maintain the doctor-patient relationship while using EHR.
Some things to be aware of include:
- How you split your time between your computer screen and your patient.
- Paying full attention during introductions and while the patient is sharing sensitive information.
- Maintaining eye contact and facing your patient.
- Keeping your hands off the computer and leaning away from your screen unless you’re entering information.
How to Pick the Right EHR Software For Your Practice
With the huge popularity of EHR systems, there are many solutions available on the market. So how do you choose the right one for your clinic?
We recommend you go by the features that will suit your clinic’s needs.
If our pick of the top 6 EHR features sounds like the right fit for your medical practice, try Medesk!
Medesk is an EHR with integrated practice management tools. This means you get all of the healthcare-oriented features such as medical records and analysis tools, as well as business-oriented features like accounting and inventory management.
Some of the biggest Medesk features include:
- EHR - access your patients’ entire medical history all in one centralized location!
- Online Booking - make booking appointments easy for both your patients and your staff.
- Telemedicine - don’t let distance keep your patients from the healthcare they need!
- Inventory management - automatically keep track of all materials used throughout the day.
- Medical billing - generate invoices, track payments, and handle claims with an easy-to-use tool!
And much more!
If Medesk sounds like the EHR solution for your medical practice, try our free trial today!