The Complete EMR Software Buyers Guide
We know that purchasing EMR software can be a big decision for a practice so we have put together a reference guide that will help your practice make the best decision. Here you will find everything you need to know about understanding what exactly EMR and medical software are, how your staff should be trained, features and benefits to look for and much more.
Let’s start with the basics.
What is EMR Software?
EMR software, or electronic medical records software, is a paperless system of collecting, managing, storing and disseminating health information. Usually, when a patient visits a physician, his or her interaction with the physician generates data. This data is then stored in the medical software that has a record of the patient’s medical history. From there, it is easy for office staff to pull charts or prior patient records to provide the best care during the current office visit. Having a central location where all patient data is stored can save a practice significant amount of time (and money) in physical chart pulling.
The choice of a quality EMR vendor is extremely important so that patient data is able to be collected efficiently and accurately. Through EMR software, physicians or nurses who interact with patients, will be able to quickly input a patients medical history, diagnosis, medications, immunizations dates, treatment plans, radiology images, and lab results. This data is then stored electronically and will allow anyone with property login credentials to access applicable patient data.
Selecting the Right EMR
Now that you have a little better understanding of what EMR software actually is, now we have to determine which vendor or service is right for your practice. The tips provided below should help make your selection process a little bit easier.
To begin, your office should conduct a needs based assessment to determine where your current software’s problem areas or paint points are. This type of information will help you discover which type of software and features will be needed for your practice. When completing a needs based assessment for your office consider the following: coding requirements, quality improvement goals, patient satisfaction, meaningful use standards, and the software’s ability to manage medications. It is important that you don’t pay for features that are otherwise not important and would not offer better patient care or increased revenue.
Now that you have determined what your needs are, you should look to a vendor that can help fulfill all of those needs. In some instances your practice may require custom coding but generally, software packages should fulfill your office needs without this need. At American Medical Software, we have specialty specific software to ensure that your practice needs are completely satisfied.
Learn more about our specialty specific medical software here:
- Family Practice
- Internal Medicine
- Physical Therapy
- Mental Health
- Plus many more specialties. Learn more here.
Additionally, it is important that the vendor you go with has training and support available for your office. American Medical Software takes support and customer service very seriously. We offer 100% USA based customer support for all clients. If your practice has a question, our goal is to provide an answer to your issue with the first person that you speak with. We know just how frustrating it can be when you’re passed from service representative to service representative.
Finally, looking at reviews online is always a great way to determine if the vendor is quality or not. Reviews or testimonials can be a great way to authenticate the claims and promises that a vendor sells to clients.
EMR Software Must-Haves
Previously we mentioned a needs based assessment to determine your needs as a medical office, but we also believe at a minimum, these additional features or modules are must-haves.
When a patient arrives at your office, receives care, you ultimately want to be paid for those services. Without having a proper medical billing system that connects to your EMR, issues can arise and billing can be missed. Medical billing can often be challenging.
American Medical Software’s billing management module will allow your practice to virtually eliminate down-coding issues that may arise which will increase your practices bottom line. Imagine a billing system that is family-friendly that has endless tools and features so your practice can realize increased revenue. That is what you get with the billing module from American Medical Software.
A patient portal can help your practice streamline necessary paperwork as patients can download and fill it our prior to their visit. Additionally, a patient portal allows patients to send message appointment requests, submit prescription refills, send and receive secure messages. A patient portal isn’t just for the patients benefit either. Staff at your practice can benefit from less time wasted on a lengthy phone calls since patients can interact online.
The patient portal offered by American Medical Software will improve your patient-to-practice communication and will lead to higher patient satisfaction.
The next must-have that should be included with your EMR is an appointment scheduling module. Appointment scheduling will allow all patient interaction to be fully documented electronically. This will make tracking the patient journey much easier and more efficient.
American Medical Software offers an advanced appointment scheduling module that allows for: customizable register templates, easy appointment availability searches, see the week at a glance, easily customizable reporting, voice/call reminder systems, track patient wait times, and much more. Click here to learn more about our appointment scheduling module.
Cloud-based system capabilities
As part of your needs based assessment, you should ask yourself if a local client-server EMR is best for your office, or is cloud EMR better. With cloud-based software, you will ultimately become less reliant on local IT as it doesn’t require any local servers.
American Medical Software offers a cloud-based software solution for practices that require it. Our software does not require local servers, has automatic updates as well as system backups along with scalable pricing and easy access from any computer that has an Internet connection. Even if your office doesn’t require cloud-based software, it is important that a vendor you work with at least offers it. This shows that the vendor is continually evolving with office needs.
Cost-Benefit Analysis of EMR Software
Now, we want to provide you with the cost-benefits that quality EMR software provides to a practice. Initially, these just applied to practices that were still on a paper system, but these also apply to practices that currently have an EMR as well. Often times clients will come to us with significant paint paints that their current vendor’s software supposed to fix. So don’t skip through these just because you currently have medical software.
Learn more about the cost-benefit analysis in both the short-term as well as the long-term:
- Your practice will see less time lost while organizing and collecting physical charts. Even if your practice has an EMR, we often have clients switch to American Medical Software, as their current software is extremely slow at pulling information. Your EMR should be fast, not slow.
- Nearly eliminate those large file cabinets that line hallways or take up entire offices to store patient data.
- Your practice will quickly see time savings in relation to fast exchange between insurance companies and medical providers.
Long-term cost benefits:
- Significantly minimizes the risk of a data breach that may result in a HIPAA violation. This also applies to offices that currently have EMR software. It is extremely important your vendor takes cyber security very seriously. If they don’t take it seriously, or do not offer updates or regular patches, it is time to make a switch.
- Quickly and efficiently transfer large amount of information and data much faster.
- Software updates can be made quickly to support future regulations
- Cut down drastically on the need for paper products in the office.
After you determine the benefits, in the short and long-term, of using a top rated EMR, now we can discuss what to expect when switching to EMR. As we discussed in a prior section, you need to conduct a needs based assessment. Below are a few additional questions to help with your practices assessment.
- Quickly scale users to keep up with practice growth
- Determine the total number of users who need access
- Security features and updates
- User experience and ease of use for staff
- Data migration
- Training and support.
EMR Software Training
Training is extremely important to the success of EMR implementation. If your staff is not properly trained to use the software, things will not run as efficient as they could. It is not unusual for newly implemented medical software to be hit with slight employee pushback. Often times the pushback is for good reason, especially if training is minimal or nonexistent. Would you want to use a system that you don’t know how to use or weren’t trained on? Our guess is probably not.
Below are a few helpful tips to make your software transition go a little smoother.
Identify Employee Computer Skills
The first step in implementation is to determine computer skills of your employees. If your staff doesn’t have the skills to use a computer efficiently, there are a few things that may need to occur prior to implementation.
After you have determined the employees that most likely will require additional computer training, you will want to provide them the tools needed to learn basic computer skills. Giving staff proper training will allow your new EMR software to be met with open arms and not with hesitation or any anxiety.
You should designate one to three users (depending on your office size) to be the subject matter expects that know the software inside and out. These key users will be responsible to answer questions that staff members may have, or if they cannot, they are responsible for contacting support to solve the problem.
An easy way to identify the power users in your office is to identify those who have a high level of computer competency and are quick learners. Additionally, make certain that these key users are friendly with other staff members and have a personality that will be well suited to help others, even if the questions are basic.
Job Specific Module Training
Many practices often times prefer that employees are fluent on all modules within the software. These modules may include, electronic medical records, patient portal, appointment scheduling, and medical billing and management. As mentioned above, there should be a few key users who learn all modules but the entire staff does not need to. You don’t want to confuse individuals with different tools and functions of all modules when it doesn’t relate to their day-to-day use of the software. This is how resistance will start to begin, in the form of frustrations and not understanding how to complete their direct tasks.
Taking this approach of not training individuals on all modules will cut down on the amount of time needed to be trained and will get your staff up to speed much quicker. For example, your staff in the billing department should be focused on learning billing codes and being able to quickly find insurance information. They should not be trained on modules that don’t apply to them, such as how to find test results or enter a patient diagnosis.
Request Feedback from Staff Members
Any software implementation will undoubtedly hit a few speed bumps are the initial implementation. This doesn’t mean the software is bad, broken or doesn’t work, it just means more communication needs to be done.
It is very important that your staff know they can work directly with the key team members who will log any issues or concerns that have been identified. You need to be clear that feedback is welcomed and encouraged in order to be as efficient as possible in the long run.
After the initial implementation has been completed, we recommend having meetings at least every other week to request feedback from users. Be certain that members of the staff who use different modules are providing feedback so everyone is represented. The nursing and physician staff members will have drastically different questions or concerns that front desk or administrative staff members.
Ready to Get Started? Let’s Connect
American Medical Software has been a highly rated medical software provider for over 34 years. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help your practice become more efficient and improve the bottom line.