Selecting the best Electronic Health Records (EHR) software for your healthcare practice involves carefully considering several factors. Before you begin looking for software, it’s essential to assess your healthcare practice's specific needs and requirements.
A clear idea of your needs will put you in a better position to evaluate potential solutions. Consider
- The size of your practice
- The specialties
- The workflows involved
Here is a step-by-step guide to help you find the best EHR software, including the factors to consider and the features to look for.
12 factors to consider when evaluating EHR systems
- Interoperability — The best EHR software should be capable of exchanging data with other systems, labs, pharmacies, and other healthcare providers.
- Compliance and certifications — Although most EHR software will comply with relevant healthcare regulations and standards, you shouldn’t assume it does without checking. Look for certifications by credible organizations like the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC).
- Integration options — Ensure that the EHR software you choose integrates seamlessly with your existing systems, such as practice management, scheduling, billing, and laboratory systems. Even if you don’t plan to integrate today, having the option for the future when you’re ready to connect your systems is beneficial.
- Training and customer support — If you’re stuck between two EHR systems, look at the level of training and customer support each provides. Adequate training and ongoing support are essential for successful implementation and troubleshooting.
- Scalability — The best EHR software can scale with the growth of your practice, so look for one that can accommodate an increasing number of patients and additional features as your practice expands. Consider what impact potential future users will have on your costs, if applicable to the software’s pricing structure.
- Data security and privacy — When assessing EHR systems, verify the security measures in place to protect patient data. Your chosen EHR system should comply with Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) standards and include encryption and access controls.
- Customization — For a better fit, your chosen EHR should allow for customizations that tailor it to the specific needs of your healthcare organization. Customizations to look for include email templates, forms, and workflows.
- Cost — Evaluate the total cost of ownership, including upfront costs, ongoing fees, and potential hidden costs. Consider your budget and choose a solution that provides good value for money now and as your practice grows.
- User reviews and references — Another important factor to consider when evaluating EHR systems is the user reviews and references. Read the testimonials from other healthcare providers who have implemented the EHR software and ask for references to get feedback on their experiences.
- Vendor reputation — Consider factors like the vendor’s history in the industry, financial stability, and commitment to ongoing development and support when evaluating options.
- Future updates and innovations — Inquire about the vendor’s plans for future updates and innovations to assess their commitment to improving the product. (Alternatively, ask what features or upgrades have been released in the past six months.) You might also want to ask about the process for submitting feedback and feature suggestions if this is important to you.
- User-friendliness — Lastly, one of the most important factors to consider is how user-friendly the EHR software is for your employees and clients. An intuitive and user-friendly interface allows for easy navigation and faster data entry, increasing the likelihood of the software implementation being a success.
12 EMR features to look for
- Patient portal — The best EHR software should have a patient portal that enables patients to access their medical records, schedule appointments, request prescription refills, and communicate securely with healthcare providers.
- Mobile access — Another essential feature is mobile access, either in the form of a mobile-friendly website or app, that allows healthcare providers to access patient information and perform tasks on the go.
- E-prescribing — Electronic prescribing capabilities can streamline the prescription process and enhance medication management and are a valuable feature to look out for when evaluating EHR systems.
- Billing and coding — Integrated billing and coding features ensure an accurate and efficient billing process. Look for systems that support ICD-10 and CPT codes.
- Clinical decision support — The best EHR software will offer clinical decision support tools that provide alerts, reminders, and evidence-based guidance to assist healthcare providers in making informed decisions.
- Order management — EHR software can facilitate efficient order management for diagnostic tests, medical imaging, and other procedures. Look for a system that can track and manage orders digitally.
- Security and compliance — The best EHR software (and the only ones you should be considering) comes with robust security features, including access controls, encryption, and audit trails, to ensure compliance with healthcare regulations such as HIPAA.
- Patient history and records — As expected, one of the most essential features to look for is patient records! The best EHR software should provide comprehensive patient history and records, including medical history, medications, allergies, immunizations, and other relevant information.
- Electronic imaging and document management — Integrations with electronic imaging systems make storing and managing medical images easier. Look for an EHR that supports electronic document management.
- Reporting and analytics — EHRs offering advanced reporting and analytics tools allow healthcare providers to analyze data, track performance metrics, and generate meaningful insights that can influence patient care.
- Telemedicine integration — If your healthcare clinic offers telemedicine options, an EHR that supports virtual visits and remote patient monitoring will be essential.
- Audit trail — Lastly, an audit trail feature tracks changes made to patient records, ensuring accountability and compliance with regulatory requirements, making it an important feature to look for.
By carefully assessing these features and understanding the needs of your healthcare organization, you can choose an EMR system that aligns with the unique needs of your practice and enhances the efficiency and quality of patient care.