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What is electronic medical records (EMR) software?
Electronic medical records (EMR) software allows medical practices and healthcare facilities to record, organize, and manage patients’ medical records. EMRs are the digital imprints of prescriptions, charts, and the complete treatment details of patients. This software uses industry-approved CPT codes for recording and streamlining data entry.
EMR software helps practitioners upgrade from the traditional pen-and-paper approach to an electronic recording system. It even helps them enroll for Meaningful-Use (MU) incentives offered by the United States government.
EMR software is closely related to electronic health records (EHR) software and is often sold as an integral part of the practice management software suite.
The benefits of electronic medical records software
EMR software helps doctors and medical practices save their time and effort by digitally recording patient details and reducing manual data entry. Some of the key benefits of using EMR software are listed below:
- Better record management, fewer medical errors: Medical records are a patient’s entire medical history, which includes their personal information, allergies and symptoms, treatment details, prescriptions, charts, and drug history. These records pile-up as the treatment progresses. It becomes difficult to manage all this information for hundreds and thousands of patients, especially when the records are stored on paper. EMR software helps patients and doctors record information electronically, which doesn’t take up any physical space. This saves the records from physical damage, being misplaced, or lost. As the records are entered in a set format using standard CPT codes, you can prevent hand-transcribed errors by doctors.
- Easier transfer of data: Usually, medical records are shared across departments for discussions, further tests, or final billing. But paper files have the risk of getting misplaced during transit or having incorrect test results added to the file. With digital files, medical records can be easily shared without fear of wear and tear. Also, the chance of pages getting misplaced is eliminated. Records can even be accessed remotely in case the doctor or patient is traveling.
- Enhanced productivity: EMR software helps practices accurately bill patients for the treatments and services offered. It also automates the task of filling forms, giving practitioners more time to look after patients instead of drowning in paperwork.
Typical features of electronic medical records software
- Charting: Prepares a comprehensive record of the patient's clinical data and medical history such as demographics, vital signs, medications, treatments, and laboratory notes.
- Code and charge entry: Assigns an appropriate cost to treatment codes, allowing you to bill patients according to the codes listed on their prescriptions or checkout bills.
- Decision support: Provides doctors the relevant information to support their decisions about patient care. This information is the analysis of historical data and records.
- Order entry: Enters and sends medication orders and treatment instructions electronically from within the application.
- Appointment scheduling: Books patient appointments, displays bookings on a calendar, manages no-shows, waitlists, and reschedules requests.
- Compliance tracking: Tracks core practice operations to ensure that they are performed in accordance with the medical industry standards and regulations.
- Self-service portal: Offers a dedicated portal for patients where they can book appointments, communicate with their doctor, receive test results and prescriptions, as well as make payments.
Considerations when purchasing electronic medical records software
With so many options available in the market, it isn’t easy for medical practices to find and select the right EMR software. Buyers need to keep the following points in mind when purchasing EMR software for their practices.
- Integration with other medical systems: If you already use medical software, such as for practice management, electronic health records (EHR), or billing, we recommend choosing an EMR system that integrates with your applications. This will facilitate smooth data sync across applications and prevent repetitive data entry. If you plan to purchase a new practice management solution for your clinic, give preference to solutions with a built-in EMR module.
- Relevant features: It’s important to shortlist all the software features your practice will need. Often, practices buy software without evaluating the core features, strengths, and limitations. A Capterra research estimates that nearly 75% of software features are never used. We recommend making a list of your critical processes and identifying the key feature requirements to narrow down vendors and solutions that fit your needs.
- General practice versus specialty: Many vendors offer EMR solutions that specifically cater to a specialty practice. These solutions have detailed charting templates or interfaces, which a general practice solution may not. If you run a core specialty, such as pediatrics or orthopedics, opt for specialty-specific EMR products. This way, your won’t have irrelevant fields and your staff can easily record details in the specific templates.
Relevant electronic medical records software trends
- AI to offer better decision support: EMR software is about recording patients’ medical details in an organized manner. But what's the point if you can’t use this exhaustive medical database? Some EMR software vendors are adding artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities to analyze large volumes of medical data and make important clinical and treatment-related decisions. AI is also aiding in developing new drugs and making patient diagnoses with the help of collective data gathered from the older records.
- Internet of medical things will continue to rise: The number of medical IoT is expected to keep growing because of the numerous opportunities in the medical sector. Doctors are attaching multiple sensory devices to patients during treatment for live monitoring of key indicators such as the heart rate, body temperature, and blood pressure.
Other trends that are going to impact the EMR software market include the greater adoption of cloud-based EMR software and numerous dedicated mobile apps for both doctors and patients.