As the fervor toward EMR continues to grow and new systems are being developed to partake in this increasingly competitive market, the same key words are being tacked on to every sales pitch: “streamline your practice”, “easy-to-use”, “improve patient care”, and the list goes on and on. If you’re a decision maker in your practice, no doubt your inbox is flooded with EMR news day-in and day-out.
In trying to get the word out as effectively as possible, many companies have resorted to spouting out phrases instead of complete sentences. To engage providers with their company above all others is the ultimate goal and sometimes there’s only a few second window to do so.
We have broken down the top 5 key phrases to explain what they really mean and how you can use them to decide what’s best for your practice.
1. “Fully integrated”: Many systems comprise their packages by using third party components, like a third party lab interface or billing program. This option allows companies to save on the costs of developing their own programs, but it can cause problems for the end user, who might end up updating a different piece of the software every other week and lose out on time to complete their tasks. Therefore, “Fully integrated” is the best option for small to large practices because data will flow smoothly from one part of the system to the next.
2. “Real-time information”: Any system that offers “real-time” anything is basically saying that clinicians using their system are able to view up-to-date patient information and thereby make informed decisions related to care and safety. This includes instantaneous cross referencing of statistics, with the ability to place them in a flow chart, bar graph, or other graphical views.
3. “Interoperability”: This is the universal term for communicating between technologies. If a system claims that they are “interoperable” with other systems, they usually mean with all other HIPAA compliant technologies. Depending on the system, this can mean that it can communicate well with other EMRs, with devices such as EKG and CT scans, and even third-party billing software.
4. “Meaningful Use Certified”: If your practice is after CMS incentive payments, this is probably the first one you look for. All certification bodies have different requirements, however. If you’re not sure which group certified the EMR, don’t be shy to ask. In our opinion, CCHIT ® is the most thorough of all ONC certifiers.
5. “See more Patients”: This is probably the only one that attempts to speak the language of doctors. EMRs that promise to “streamline practice workflow” usually end up guaranteeing that the practice will also be able to see more patients. Simple features like a check-in kiosk, automated appointment reminders, and a patient portal all allow for the patient to take part in their own healthcare and alleviate a lot of burden from office staff. If administrative tasks are reduced or automated, patients can get in and get out faster.
In the end, don’t get caught up too much with the razzle dazzle of EMRs and all their nifty little phrases. A proven solution is a powerful mix of EMR/EHR, Practice Management, Document Management, Image Annotation, and an online Patient Portal. Simple is not always better, so don’t even look at an EMR that brands itself as “simple”.