Optometry EMR: What are the best features to look for?

Electronic medical record systems can do a lot – but which one is best for you?

Electronic medical records are quickly becoming indispensable parts of modern eye care practices, and there are tons on the market to choose from. While all offer basic EMR features, not all of them offer the same expanded features or functionality. The wealth of choices can make it difficult for providers to understand the differences between different EMR systems and know which one is best for them.
This blog will define what electronic medical records are and then explain some of the best features to look for when choosing an EMR system for your eye care practice.
What is an electronic medical record?
An electronic medical record, or EMR, is a systemized collection of medical information about a patient that is stored on a computer. Information about the patient that can be stored on the EMR includes their diagnoses, medicines, tests, allergies, immunizations, and treatment plans. Electronic medical records can be seen by all healthcare providers who are taking care of a patient and can be used by them to help make recommendations about the patient’s care.
Electronic medical records have the ability to provide key benefits to physicians, eye care practices, and eye care organizations since they have the ability to facilitate workflows and improve the quality and safety of patient care.
What are the barriers to adopting electronic medical records in practices today?
Despite their many benefits, electronic medical records are not universally adopted.

Some of the most significant barriers to adoption include:

  • High initial capital cost and insufficient return on investment for small eye care practices.
  • Unclear understanding of the organizational capabilities and change management required to successfully adopt EMR systems in daily practice routines.
  • Failure to redesign clinical process and workflow to incorporate the technology systems in eye care practices.
  • Concern that systems will become obsolete and amount to an asset of diminishing value – or no value at all.
  • Lack of skilled resources for implementation and support.
  • Concern regarding negative unintended consequences of technology, including stolen data, data used with ill intentions, and malware attacks and cyber hijacking.

8 key EMR functions for safety, quality, and care efficiency that EMRs should support

In 2003, the Institute of Medicine saw the potential that EMRs have to revolutionize patient care and issued a group of eight key functions for safety, quality, and care efficiency that EMRs should support. Those include:

  • Physician access to patient information, such as diagnoses, allergies, lab results, and medications.
  • Access to new and past test results among providers in multiple care settings.
  • Computerized provider order entry.
  • Computerized decision-support systems to prevent drug interactions and improve compliance with best practices.
  • Secure electronic communication among providers and patients.
  • Patient access to health records, disease management tools, and health information resources.
  • Computerized administration processes, such as scheduling systems.
  • Standards-based electronic data storage and reporting for patient safety and disease surveillance efforts.

How is an electronic medical record system different from an electronic health record system?
When discussing electronic medical records, it is a good idea to cover electronic health records, or EHRs. An electronic health record is an electronic version of a patient’s medical history that is maintained by a provider over time. It may include all of the key clinical data relevant to that person’s care, including demographics, progress notes, problems, medications, vital signs, past medical history, immunizations, laboratory data, and radiology reports. EHRs automate and simplify access to information and have the potential to streamline the provider’s workflow. EHRs also have the ability to support other care-related activities, including evidence-based decision support, quality management, and outcomes reporting. In summary, EHRs represent the continued progression of advanced, personalized healthcare and can strengthen the relationship between patients and clinicians while also enabling eye care providers to make better decisions and provide better care.

An EHR:

  • Is a digital record of patient health information
  • Allows a patient’s medical information to move with them
  • Has tools that providers can use for better decision making
  • Allows easier sharing with other providers and labs

An EMR:

  • Is a digital version of a chart
  • Is not designed to be shared outside of an individual practice
  • Is mainly used by providers for diagnosis and treatment

What are some top features of EMRs?

  1. Interfaces and systems integration, including billing and hospital information systems
    Integration is one of the most crucial features of any EMR system. It happens through interfaces that share information between systems in real-time and on-demand. Especially important integration points are hospital information systems and billing systems. Billing integration gives eye care provides a way to streamline the billing process. It improves the efficiency of front office staff while also reducing coding errors.
  2. Scan documents and create custom workflows
    Document scanning is an important feature within specialized EMR solutions. It allows providers to create custom workflows based on your clinic’s unique needs. Document scanning allows providers to direct key documentation to in-house or external billing clerks, who can then forward the completed submission for reimbursement. No longer do you have to obtain, copy, and fax documents, which reduces the potential for missing paperwork or billing delays.
  3. Track medications and get alerts to potential reactions
    EMRs make it easier to track medications prescribed to patients. One of the top benefits of this is the ability to easily determine if a prescribed medication will interact with other medications being taken by a patient and the ability to identify allergic reactions and suggest medication alternatives.
  4. Send e-prescriptions to pharmacies
    E-prescriptions mean saying goodbye to sloppily written notes. Instead, providers can electronically write prescriptions and either give a legible printout to the patient or send the order directly to the pharmacy that the patient prefers. Prescribing a controlled substance? E-prescriptions have a special portal that satisfies state and federal regulations when dealing with controlled substances.
  5. Create appointment reminders
    The appointment reminder features that are built into EMRs allow providers easily schedule appointments, send reminders on a custom schedule, and communicate with patients. This has been shown to save time and reduce missed appointments.

Explore How Eye Care Leaders Can Help in Your Electronic Medical Records Search

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