According to the latest statistics provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, almost three-fourths of all office-based physicians have an electronic health record (EHR) system in place. This figure is up from the previous year, when just over two-thirds of these health professionals reported the same.
However, one study conducted by the Minnesota Department of Health indicates that chiropractors are extremely underrepresented in these numbers. In fact, in this case, they found that only 25 percent of chiropractic offices were currently using an EHR, with another eight percent reporting that they were working on implementing one. That’s a huge difference!
Whether you’re part of that eight percent looking for an EHR system or the 25 percent using an EHR system, you’ll want to know four factors to consider before purchasing.
1. Program Functionality
The whole purpose behind using an EHR system is its functionality, or what it “does.” For this reason, you want a program that’s designed specifically for chiropractors as they are a unique breed of other healthcare professionals. This ensures you have all of the functions you need and none of the ones you don’t, so you’re not paying for a bunch of features you’ll never use.
You also want an EHR that offers practice management integration; one that the system works as a whole, with all areas of managing patient and practice information in one place. In other words, you want an All-In-One solution that allows you run your business without having to access different software programs.
Security is a significant factor in EHR functionality. Make sure the EHR system that is HIPPA compliant and performs automatic daily backups. Also, the EHR should have data encryption capabilities. It’s not necessary to encrypt the data when it resides on a server EHR system. However, the data must be encrypted when sending it off-site.
Finally, regarding functionality, choose an EHR that is government certified. Why? As explained by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, “Certified EHR technology gives assurance to purchasers and other users that an EHR system or module offers the necessary technological capability, functionality, and security.” In short, certification helps ensure program functionality which encompasses all of the features we’ve just discussed.
2. Program Design
The second factor to consider before purchasing your EHR is program design. In other words: how it works.
Here are a few things to look for:
• Intuitive Navigation – Does the system make sense? Is it easy to use and do you naturally flow from one task to the next?
• Low Click Through Rate – This is the number of mouse clicks it takes to complete a task. An efficient EHR will minimize this rate as much as possible. Ideally, it should take no more than 2-3 click to find or record any information in a patients chart.
• Tablet Optimization – Are you able to access your EHR with just a tablet without using a keyboard. In other words, can you comfortably use your finger or stylus to navigate and record information?
• Graphically Designed Interface – Does the EHR have graphics that are easy to see and use, enabling you quick access to the information you seek?
3. Reputation of the EHR Provider
Another important factor to consider is the reputation of the EHR provider. As in any business, some are better than others, so you want to do your homework before selecting one and trusting it with all of your chiropractic data.
This means going online and looking at client reviews or asking for references. See what others have to say about working with this particular EHR company. If possible, visit an office using the EHR and see how it works.
Look also at the structure of the business. For instance, are chiropractors involved? Because chiropractors have unique needs and the company should be able to relate to them. As the saying goes, it takes one to know one.
Pay attention to the age of the business and the number of clients it serves as well. These indicate how stable it is, providing you a level of comfort that they’re going to be around to service your EHR system needs well into the future.
4. Customer Service
Speaking of your needs, the final factor that is important when selecting an EHR is customer service. The last thing you need is to purchase a program only to have questions that no one will answer or run into an issue and be left high and dry because there’s no customer support.
Therefore, you want to find an EHR that offers 24/7 call centers, forums, and a quick emergency response time so you can get your questions answered swiftly any time of the day or night. It’s also helpful to use an EHR provider that offers training, whether via video, one-on-one with you and your staff, or (preferably) both.
Selecting a system that offers records transfer is invaluable as well. Just imagine the time it would take you if you have to do it by hand!
An EHR with integrated practice management system is the engine of your practice. It guides the workflow between you, your patients and your staff and keeps everyone on the same page in real time. Take your time and consider the above factors. It will save you a lot of pain and aggravation. There’s nothing worse than spending thousands on an EHR system that in the end waists more of your time and money.