Top 5 benefits of EMR software for independent and small businesses

Formerly used by large providers, these time-saving tools are increasingly found in small and independent practices

The popularity of electronic medical record software is growing wildly, both in the United States and around the world. The growth of this market comes as the healthcare sector increasingly moves toward digitalization and integrated healthcare systems.

Electronic medical records, or EMR, help solve issues such as interoperability, privacy concerns, and secure data storage. The arrival of COVID-19 in 2020 further showed just how important and valuable digital solutions are for the healthcare industry.

In medical practices both big and small, software tools that give doctors easier access to patient data are becoming an indispensable part of daily routines. Electronic medical records, managed with EMR software and electronic health records, have revolutionized het ay patient records are entered and processed. They promise an era of better care for patients and lessened burdens for healthcare providers.

In their early days, EMR systems we more expensive and complicated, and tended to be adopted by larger healthcare providers who could both afford the systems and have IT staff on hand to help trouble shoot. But today, a new era of more affordable and much easier to use electronic medical record systems mean that practices of any size, and especially those without IT staff on hand, can easily integrate an EMR system into their operations. For many of these practices, adopting EMR systems has allowed them to compete with larger medical practices and those that are corporate-owned.

Let’s look at EMR systems in more detail and understand the top 5 benefits that an EMR software company can offer to small and independent businesses.

What is EMR?

An EMR, or electronic medical record, is a digital collection of all the information that you would normally find in a provider’s paper chart on a patient. This can include medical history, diagnoses, medications, immunization dates, allergies, lab results, and doctors’ notes. In EMR systems, these records are stored in the cloud and accessible by mobile devices.

An EMR can also be used for payment processing, insurance claims, patient visit scheduling, adding new patients, and recording and updating patient information.

Notably, EMR software systems also enable clinics to easily integrate regulatory and reimbursement changes through HIPAA, ICD-10, and the Meaningful Use rules.

But EMRs do more than just replace old paper records. They include incorporated systems that allow simple and effective communication among members of a healthcare team. This results in better patient care.

What is the difference between and EMR and EHR?

In looking at web-based EMRs, you may have heard of a related term, EHR. EHRs, short for electronic medical records, contain everything that an EMR contains and is sharable between authorized providers, health organizations, and clinics. While an EMR is more likely to be used just for a single provider, an electronic health record includes information from many providers and can be shared by everyone helping to coordinate care for a patient.

Electronic medical record:

  • Is a digital version of a patient chart
  • Does not easily travel outside a practice
  • Is mainly used by a provider to diagnose, treat, and care

Electronic health record:

  • A digital record of all of a patient’s health information
  • Can be sent to different health care providers and specialists outside of a particular practice
  • Can be accessed by providers for decision making, diagnosis, and care

What features should a good EMR have?

Are you thinking about adopting an electronic medical records system at your practice? Not all EMRs are created the same, and it pays to look at the features offered by different providers to make sure you are getting the type of functionality you need for your practice to operate efficiently.

Some must-have features for EMR system include:

  • A patient portal that is easy to access and contains educational materials and information on lab results, allergies, medications, discharge summaries, immunizations, and recent doctors’ visits. There should also be downloadable forms. As a bonus, an EMR’s patient portal should include a benefits and coverage check, appointment scheduling, prescription refill request forms, contact information update forms, and a payment method tab. As this is the key function of an EMR, make sure to look at this feature closely to ensure you like its look, its feel, and its functionality.
  • A feature that allows team members to set appointments for patients. This would include a way to quickly register patients, schedule them, and determine the purpose for the next visit, then add any notes for the providers who will be seeing the patient at that visit. The tool should also send out automated appointment reminders using text or email.
  • E-prescribing tools that let you electronically print and send prescriptions, with instant notification of potential drug interactions and allergies.
  • A patient history recording feature that makes it easy for users to quickly and accurately record and then access patient history. This can include patient clinical records, surgical reports, test results, and social history.
  • A computerized physician order entry (CPOE) that lets service providers enter, save, and then electronically send orders for prescriptions, tests, and other services.
  • E/M coding tools that can record information such as physical exam results, pertinent health risk factors, treatment and diagnosis codes, prior diagnostic test results and medical care proposals.
  • Lab integration so provides can monitor the delivery, inspection, results, and certainty of samples electronically.

Top 5 benefits of EMR software for small and independent practices

Now that you know what a cloud-based EMR does and what functions it should contain, let’s look at why having EMR software in your small or independent practice is a great idea.

  1. They save space: This is a big one, and is often overlooked. All those cabinets full of paper files? They are now in the cloud. With EMR systems implementation, practices can say so long to the need to store, manage, and retrieve paper records.
  2. They optimize workflows: EMRs make it easy to keep track of patients and manage patients who visit a medical facility. Since records are digitized, it is no longer necessary to have a file follow a patient around a building. And since so many tools are built into the EMR systems, it makes managing tests, scheduling appointments, sending reminders, and more so much easier.
  3. They lower operational costs: With records in one place, your staff will spend less time scurrying around looking for files. Less time is spent handling paper records, scheduling tasks, and manually sending reminders and updates, so your staff can function on more revenue0-earning tasks.
  4. They simplify communication processes: Good EMRs are packed with built-in communication tools, which will save you gobs of time. Now, formerly manual communication processes can happen with the tap of a finger, automating prescription refill requests, appointment reminders, next visit scheduling, test results sending, and more.
  5. They reduce errors: EMRs reduce and prevent medical errors by notifying providers or potential drug interactions or adverse reactions. They improve the ability to diagnose disease and improve patient outcomes.

EMRs are rapidly growing in popularity, even with small and independent practices, and a new era of EMR are much more affordable than you might be thinking. To learn more about the benefits of EMRs and how they can improve your practice, contact Eye Care Leaders today.

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