Chiropractors have a lot of information to decipher before choosing the right electronic health records (EHR) software for their practice. Knowing the fundamental qualities in an EHR is critical to minimizing costs and maximizing productivity. After all, purchasing a chiropractic EHR system may be the most important practice decision a chiropractor will make. It’s a decision that will last for many years and significantly impact the way a chiropractor manages their patients.
Today there are hundreds of software vendors to choose from in the market, each advertising very different products at very different costs. Knowing which qualities are fundamental is critical to purchasing the right EHR system for your practice. In an effort assist in the buying decision, a list of the top ten critical features to look for in an EHR below.
Top 10 EHR qualities:
1) Government certification status – Most providers are aware of the government’s $44,000 incentive program for providers who adopt certified EHR systems. What chiropractors may not know is there are two certification status’ for EHR systems, modular and complete. Only completely certified systems will qualify for the incentive money. Additionally, some EHR companies may have used other software systems in order to satisfy their certification status. Bottom line: make sure the EHR is completely certified system and doesn’t require other software.
2) Specificity– Chiropractors are unique health care professionals. As such, EHR systems should be designed from the ground up using the direct input of a practicing chiropractor. Systems that have been designed for general practitioners and later retrofitted for chiropractors will simply be less functional. Buyers should ask the EHR system was designed by a practicing chiropractor.
3) Connectivity– In today’s digital world, many offices are using some form of software scheduling, billing, accounting, statistics, and/or marketing. Having multiple programs for each of these functions is redundant, inefficient and costly. An EHR should incorporates these functions into a single practice management system will be more stable and efficient. For example, when daily notes are completed, the diagnosis, treatments and charges should automatically post to the patients accounts and insurance claims.
4) Usability– It’s hard enough that a doctor needs to switch from paper records to electronic, let alone learn to use a software system that manages their whole office. To ease this transition, the program needs to be intuitive and logical. A user should not have to click through several windows in order to accomplish a simple task. Data should only be entered once and important information should be clearly displayed in an organized fashion.
5) Adaptability – Windows is still the most popular operating system but more apple users are growing in popularity. Having an EHR that is compatible with both operating systems will allow you more flexibility. Tablet PC’s have proven to be more efficient and are the main reason for their growing trend. Having a chiropractic software system that is graphically driven for touch screens interfaces will allow you to be more efficient.
6) Customizable– It’s important to use a program that generally follows accepted standards of care. However, it is equally important to have a system that can be tailored to the doctor’s unique ways of practicing. An EHR program that restricts the way a doctor diagnosis’, treats and manages their patients will only increase frustration, usability and liability.
7) Reliable support – Converting to an EHR is one of the most complex tasks chiropractors will face in practice. Therefore, chiropractors should accept nothing less than a personalized support plan that is easy to access. Phone support is essential along with the ability to have technicians remotely access the computer’s desktop.
8) Program speed– As more patients are added to the program’s database, the speed will inevitably decrease. This can be minimized if the coding for software program has been done efficiently and properly. When going through a EHR demonstration, buyers should ask to see if there are at least 1000 patient records in the database. Under this condition, you should not have to wait more than 1-2 seconds for access to critical areas like billing and documentation.
9) Networking– A typical chiropractor will be using a treatment room with a receptionist at the front desk. Local networking allows both doctor and staff to have simultaneous access to patient data in each room. As Tablet PC’s become more popular, data needs to be accessed quickly through a basic wireless connection. If there are multiple clinics, then data needs to be exchanged seamlessly between those clinics through a basic broadband internet connection.
10) Cost– The right EHR system will provide multiple returns on your investment. Nonetheless, you shouldn’t have to mortgage your house in order to pay for the right system. Most quality EHR systems range between $1000.00 to $10,000.00 depending their functionality. If you are investing in a higher cost system, ask what payment options are available and if there are special discounts.
The health care environment is evolving at lightning speed and EHR technology is at the forefront of this change. EHR’s have been proven to be more efficient, accurate and secure than paper records. The right EHR system will increase productivity and improve patient care. However, don’t settle for the most popular, the most flashy or the least expensive system on the market. Take your time and use this list as a starting point when analyzing all of your options, and find the best fit for you and your office.