Electronic Health Record (EHR) Software solutions consist of digitalized patient data that is collected systematically and shared among multiple facilities and agencies as required. These solutions capture and store the entire medical history, demographics data, progress notes, medication information, treatment plans, vital signs, laboratory data, diagnostics, and radiology reports of all patients passing through the healthcare system. EHR enables physicians to track the medical progress of their patients and helps healthcare professionals to comply with regulations such as the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) EHR Incentive Program. EHR tools can be installed on-premises and on cloud servers, making them accessible by multiple providers and clinical staff members whenever needed.
Important Features in EHR Software
- Easy Patient Scheduling
- Clinical Documentation
- Cloud Hosting
- Meaningful Use Certification
- Patient Workflow Management
1. Easy Patient Scheduling
A complete EHR solution should be capable of providing a scheduling feature that permits office staff to easily give appointments to patients, register them, and select a reason for their visit. The EHR tool should ensure optimum data collection, smooth functioning, and minimal issues, and also be capable of sending automatic appointment reminders via email or text messages.
E-prescriptions are an important feature that every good EHR solution should possess. E-prescriptions ensure fluid coordination between providers and pharmacies and enable the latter to correctly fill orders with minimum time and effort. E-prescriptions enable providers to electronically write prescriptions and either give a legible printout to the patient or directly send the information to a pharmacy of the patient’s choice. With e-prescriptions, providers gain access to a secure portal for electronic prescriptions of controlled substances, helping streamline an extremely regulated procedure without compromising on integrity.
3. Clinical Documentation
Charting is a vital feature that should be present in all good Best EHR software. Charting enables physicians to digitally create and store the clinical records and other documentation of patients. Uniform charting can take place regardless of the input device (tablet, Macbook, or desktop). Programmable keyboard shortcuts should be supported in order to save time and effort in charting, just like in flowsheets. The effective use of artificial intelligence and machine learning is a gold standard in charting solutions. Machine learning helps providers to automatically store information based on previously shared records, making charting more useful and streamlined.
Just like any other software, integration and interoperability are important for EHR solutions. As EHR is handled by physicians and medical staff, it should be capable of being linked to ancillary services in the medical industry—including payers, laboratories, pharmacies, and diagnostics centers—in order to save time and reduce effort.
Hospital Information Systems and billing systems are commonly integrated in order to streamline the billing process for providers and patients. The integration of EHR with billing processes increases the efficiency of front office staff and helps reduce coding errors that may cause payment delays. Integration with billing systems also helps to speed up reimbursements.
Another important feature related to interoperability is the ability to link the EHR solution with laboratory and diagnostic centers that can receive orders digitally, process them, and send the results directly to the caregiver. Finally, the EHR software should be capable of integrating with other healthcare tools like practice management software, especially in large multispecialty hospitals that operate in multiple locations.
5. Cloud Hosting
A cloud-based EHR solution is an accessible, flexible, and cost-effective tool for maintaining patient health files in the cloud instead of having to store them on internal servers located on-premises. Data-mining capabilities enable administrators to examine work processes for strengths and weaknesses and probe patient data with an aim to identify behavior patterns, potential drug interactions, and health risk factors.
EHR software runs on the cloud, removing the need for the installation of hardware or software. With the swift implementation processes of cloud-based EHR solutions, providers can get a faster return on investment than they would with traditional client-server systems. With bank-level security and advanced encryption, EHR systems can ensure HIPAA compliance through integrated data center services.
6. Meaningful Use Certification
The introduction of regulations like the Medicare Access CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA) and the Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) enables the implementation of incentives and penalties for healthcare organizations or physicians to encourage the use of certified EHR systems. Compliance with these directives grants the healthcare provider positive adjustments and other incentives, while non-compliance may lead to penalties from the authorities.
Apart from recommending the ‘meaningful use’ of EHR software, the government has given major importance to privacy and security requirements through the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act.
7. Patient Workflow Management
EHR software should automate the order of operations at a healthcare practice or institution in order to help save time and reduce effort. For instance, EHR software should enable the automation of reminder emails for appointments, automatically set reminders for phone calls to patients, and automate the sending of test results as they become ready. A number of EHR solutions available today provide customizable workflows.