If you’ve had to deal with electronic medical records before (and at this point, who hasn’t) you know a quality EMR system is going to streamline documentation and make your clinic faster and more efficient. However, not every EMR is the same. When you’re looking at EMR solutions, it’s important to evaluate the features and benefits against your needs before choosing one to implement for your PT practice.
So, what makes for a good EMR? Here are five must-haves for any EMR system to meet the demands of a modern PT practice:
1. It must be simple to use and easy to access.
Any EMR worth your time must be straightforward in terms of how easy it is to use. Is the design and user interface intuitive from the moment you log in, or does it take a guide to navigate? More importantly, does the user experience have PTs, OTs, and SLPs in mind, or would you have to try and make do with something created for a broader set of healthcare providers? The best EMRs should fit into your needs without asking you to compromise.
Your EMR also shouldn’t leave you to figure things out on your own. Providing onboarding for your clinic as well as continued support for any issues or questions are essential to getting the most out of your EMR. You don’t need the hassle of trying to implement new technology you don’t fully understand while still trying to care for a full schedule of patients. The right EMR is one that reduces pain points, not one that creates an additional headache.
2. It must be cloud-based.
Clinicians need to access and create treatment notes on laptops, tablets and other devices from locations throughout their clinic and beyond, and they need an EMR that can record data in real-time. We don’t accept being tied to a desk with any of our other technology, so why should we settle for less with an EMR? As such, any platform you consider should be cloud-based.
Cloud-based software has the additional benefit of frequent security updates that get downloaded automatically. With new security threats popping up all the time, as well as new regulations, you’ll appreciate having real-time changes to make sure your patient data is secure and your compliance is never in question.
3. It should be customizable.
No two clinics are the same, and the EMR system you choose should be something that your rehab therapy practice can customize to get what you need out of it. Your processes and goals differ depending upon the patients and diagnoses, and having advanced profiles based upon the type of patient as well as a customized template for their objectives allows you to collect the information you need, helping to make you more effective and efficient. Keep in mind that customized features should be simple to set up and easy to change with your business’s evolving needs.
Customization can also come in handy as you expand your practice to add more PTs with more specialties, allowing each to create their own templates and workflows based upon their own goals and procedures. Along those lines, look for an EMR that scales with you in a cost-effective way. Getting stuck paying per patient chart rather than user license can stunt any potential growth with higher expenses, which are always a concern during a time of decreasing Medicare reimbursements.
In short, you should never settle for a platform where you have to accept what it offers and then change your business practices to fit around it.
4. It should be feature-rich.
When it comes to EMR platforms, there are some features you want to make sure your system will inherently have. In addition to the aforementioned customization and customer support, your EMR should:
- Give you the capability to share a patient’s chart with their primary care physician;
- Have integrated flowsheets that enable therapists to carry treatment and activity documentation from one note to the next;
- Streamline documentation with carry-forward functionality, easy note-type switching, and auto-scrolling;
- Provide you with tools for MIPS reporting, 8-minute rule monitoring, and therapy threshold tracking; and
- Ensure defensible and compliant documentation with in-note payer alerts.
As a bonus, most modern EMRs can be configured with enhancements like scheduling, digital patient intake, home exercise programming, and billing, to create an end-to-end system for all your clinic’s needs.
5. It must work with your other software.
Your clinic likely has a few different software solutions, apps, or practice management tools used for various needs, and as a PT it’s probably frustrating to see those parts of a whole working in disharmony. That’s why finding an EMR that integrates with other software is so important. Interoperability is the watchword of the moment in health care, and it’s not hard to understand why: PTs, OTs, SLPs, or any other care providers can’t offer the quality of care they’d like if they’re having to expend unnecessary energy on trying to find information across different platforms, or having to record data in two or more places.
With an integrated EMR, all that information is shared across platforms so you don’t have to struggle with entering the same information more than once, or worry about the mistakes that can result from that duplicate work. Medical history and patient data will be uniform throughout your apps to avoid any errors that could affect a patient’s care.
There’s no question an EMR system is a must for any healthcare organization, but it can be tricky to wade through options to find the right one for your needs. If you’re shopping around for a new EMR, we have a helpful software buyer’s guide to help you choose the right one. Or, sign up to demo WebPT to experience our new-and-improved SOAP notes solution first-hand!