3 signs your practice needs EHR software

You've heard the stories about EHR (electronic health record) implementations, and you know they do much more than just track medical records.

The fact that a patient's health record can move with them to other providers and that your office can go "paperless" is compelling, but maybe you're still on the fence about EHR software.

Does it make sense for your practice?

The most obvious question to ask is whether or not the benefits outweigh the financial investment and risks related to adopting an EHR. There are several things to consider when implementing, such as training costs and disruptions to your workflow. But before you think about implementation, it's important to understand your software needs.

Here are three of the biggest signs that indicate your practice needs an EHR solution.

1. Inefficient Office Procedures

When your office staff is spending too much time looking for paper charts, filing lab results, scanning and photocopying medical records, transferring paper records, and managing prescriptions, it can be difficult to stay efficient.

An EHR improves practice management by offering centralized chart management, improved communication with clinics, labs, hospitals, nursing homes and pharmacies. With your administrative duties streamlined, you'll waste less time and resources on repetitive, manual tasks.

2. Limited Quality and Convenience for Patients

If your patients are spending their time filling out new stacks of forms per visit, per provider, manually managing their prescriptions, or jumping through hoops to obtain a referral, they aren't enjoying a quality care experience. When this happens, many patients look for new providers who can provide the level of convenience and service they deserve.

With an EHR, patients spend less time completing forms, receive electronic reminders about appointments, and gain access to info about preventative care. In some cases, an EHR will also let physicians and patients connect online, which adds even more convenience to the care experience. Other features may include prescriptions, electronic referrals, and access to medical records.

3. Limited Quality and Convenience for Providers

As a provider, there are times when low-quality reporting and slow record retrieval slows you down. There is less reliability in handwritten medical records. For one, they're harder to retrieve, and for two, poor legibility can create billing and coding errors. When you leave the office, you have no visibility into patient records, which means it takes longer to develop a plan of care.

Because they integrate with other providers, labs, registries, pharmacies, and hospitals, EHR tools allow for real-time, accurate reporting. Faster, more accurate reporting means better care decisions and safer prescribing. Medical records are easy to read and can be accessed anytime, anywhere. This is especially valuable for providers who are on-call or practices with multiple locations. Additionally, EHRs provide access to drug recall and other patient alerts, so you can stay abreast of the latest risks and updates.

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Patients and providers are using modern medical technology to simplify and improve many facets of the care process. When your can store and share information seamlessly, you can make faster, safer decisions based on comprehensive medical history. In the end, that means patients are more satisfied with their level of care, your practice becomes an environment where both patient and provider are contributing to the health of the individual. If you identified with one of the three signs in this article, it may be time to start researching EHR solutions.

Jessica Barrett Halcom is a writer for TechnologyAdvice.com, with specializations in human resources, healthcare, and transportation. She holds a bachelor's degree from the University of Wisconsin, Green Bay and currently lives in Nashville, TN.

The views, opinions and positions expressed within these guest posts are those of the author alone and do not represent those of Becker's Hospital Review/Becker's Healthcare. The accuracy, completeness and validity of any statements made within this article are not guaranteed. We accept no liability for any errors, omissions or representations. The copyright of this content belongs to the author and any liability with regards to infringement of intellectual property rights remains with them.

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