Both Electronic Medical Records (EMR) and Practice Management Software (PMS) are among the most commonly used medical software currently on the market.
And it’s no surprise!
They save doctors a lot of time, reduce the frequency of human errors, and improve the quality of patient care.
This might leave you wondering “if both systems are so good, what’s the difference between them and which one should I choose?”
To answer this question we will go over the following:
- What’s an EMR and why do we use it?
- What’s a PMS and why do we use it?
- Differences between EMR and PMS
- What is the right option for your clinic?
So let’s dive right in!
What’s an EMR and Why Do We Use It?
An Electronic Medical Record is the digital version of a patient's medical charts, including their entire medical history.
It is also one of the most common types of healthcare software solutions currently available, with 85.9% of doctors already using it according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And, of course, there is a good reason for that.
EMRs provide many game-changing tools and features, such as:
- Document management, which allows you to create and store digital copies of patients’ clinical records and charts.
- Medication tracking so you can monitor patients’ prescriptions at the click of a button. You can use this tool to determine possible medication interactions as well as identify and note allergic reactions or harmful effects.
- E-prescriptions give your practice the option to write electronic prescriptions that your patients can print or send directly to the pharmacy.
- Customizable consultation templates to speed up the charting process and create easy-to-access patient data for referencing.
- Reporting tools that allow you to automatically generate reports based on the information collected by the EMR such as, patient history, lab results, or documents.
If you’re interested in learning more, make sure to also read our post on Electronic Healthcare Records for private practice management.
What’s a PMS and Why Do We Use It?
Practice Management Software is a digital solution designed to handle all the administrative processes that keep a practice running smoothly.
Whether it is automatically tracking all medical supplies to make sure your clinic never runs low or recording patient interactions to improve their customer experience, PMS makes sure your healthcare practice is functioning at its peak.
Some PMS features that make this possible are:
- A patient portal that allows your patients to book their appointments online, access their lab results at any given time, or ask their doctors questions from the comfort of their home.
- Reports and analytics tools to help you gauge how your practice is doing by providing you with data and reports on areas that are performing well and those that might need improvement.
- Automated payroll that saves time and reduces errors when calculating employee salaries.
- Stock and inventory management, so that you can keep track of all consumable items. This tool can automatically write off materials as you use them and alert you when you need to re-stock.
- Scheduling, which allows you to quickly and easily access or amend the schedules of your staff in one place.
- Medical Customer Relationship Management (CRM) to keep track of all patient interactions from beginning to end for an improved patient experience and more targeted marketing strategies.
If you’d like to learn more about how PMS works, check out our article on the purpose of practice management software.
EMR vs PMS: How Are They Different
Both EMR and PMS tools are designed for healthcare practice use, however, the difference lies in the specific areas where they can be useful.
While EMR is ideal for handling the healthcare aspect, PMS can be utilized on the business end of your medical practice. This means that all of their features and functions are different.
All EMR features are focused on helping doctors provide quality care to their patients. For example, the medication tracking tool shows all your patients’ prescriptions so that you can easily avoid possible medication interactions or allergic reactions.
On the other hand, PMS features aim to help your healthcare practice run smoothly and increase profits. For example, the reporting and analytics tools can show which times of day are busiest at your clinic and, in turn, you can ensure it is always sufficiently staffed.
EMR vs PMS: What’s the Right Option For Your Clinic?
As we explained earlier, EMR and PMS are essentially two sides of the same coin.
Doctors’ number one priority is making sure patients receive the best care possible. However, your healthcare practice is also a business, and cannot succeed without proper administration and financial planning.
Therefore, we recommend using both EMR and PMS in your healthcare practice.
If your budget only allows you to invest in one solution, however, we have come up with a list of pros and cons for each to help you decide which solution better fits your practice.
For more tips and tools to help your clinic be more successful, check out our complete guide to private practice management.
EMR Pros & Cons
Let’s begin with all the advantages of EMR.
They can help you:
- Reduce the frequency of medical errors by keeping the information updated and assisting in accurate diagnosis and treatment.
- Reduce duplicate testing by providing easy access to lab results.
- Promote patient participation by giving them access to their records.
- Save time and space by storing all records digitally and reducing menial work.
- Track results and data over time by keeping all records that can be accessed for reference at any time.
- Improve preventative care by identifying patients that are due for screenings.
- Improve security and privacy of patient records by storing them behind a more reliable digital security wall.
- Lower operational costs by reducing the space needed for record-keeping and reducing the workload of receptionists.
- Support research by documenting patient records.
On the other hand, some potential drawbacks you should consider include:
- Implementation can be expensive since EMRs require proper hardware, training, and support in addition to the software.
- Malfunctions can occur, which can lead to system downtime or data loss.
- Data breaches can occur if appropriate security measures are not in place.
New to EHR? Make sure to follow our top 11+ EHR tips!
Private Practice Management Pros & Cons
Next, let’s look at the pros and cons of PMS.
Through its many useful features, PMS will allow you to:
- Spend less time on administrative tasks such as patient bookings, employee salaries’ calculations, and more.
- Have a faster and easier billing procedure by generating invoices automatically and keeping track of claims.
- Reduce no-shows by sending automated appointment reminders to your patients.
- Improve communication with patients by helping your team create targeted marketing strategies.
- Centralize your data in a single software so you can access patient information, check the past month’s revenue, or review the efficiency of specific marketing channels all in one place.
- Conduct online consultations so that your patients can see you no matter where they are.
- Manage your medical practice remotely using cloud-based software that can be accessed from anywhere in the world.
On the downside, PMS can:
- Have a learning curve, which means that it takes time to reach competency and that regular, ongoing training is required.
- Be expensive to implement as it also requires hardware, training, and support. However, it is more cost-effective in the long term.
For more in-depth information, check out our guide on how to choose medical practice management software.
The Best of Both Worlds - EMR & Private Practice Management Software Hybrid
If both software solutions we discussed sound good to you then try Medesk—our award-winning EMR solution with built-in PMS capabilities!
Medesk has been rated as one of the easiest-to-use tools on the market, as well as the best value for its price by software review companies such as Capterra.
By combining both EMR and PMS as software solutions, you’ll get the healthcare and business management tools you need to take your medical practice to the next level!
Some of our essential features include:
- Evidence-based medical decision-making tools that assist with diagnoses and recommend the best treatment options.
- A robust patient portal allows patients to schedule appointments online and access important information such as lab results and immunization records all in one place.
- Telemedicine, which allows you to conduct online consultations with your patients no matter where they are.
- Simplified reporting with 40+ templates to help you compile reports in minutes and keep track of your clinic’s performance.
- A simplified prescribing tool to make prescribing faster and more convenient for both you and your patients.
- Medical CRM allows you to monitor your patients’ customer experience from beginning to end and collects feedback that helps you improve your services.
And so much more!
Interested in giving it a try? Get started with our free trial to find out whether our EHR solution is right for your medical practice!