Family Practice EHR Software Buyers Guide
Last updated: December 04, 2023
Buying an EMR for a Family Practice
Electronic Health Records are a solution for medical practices to improve patient care. Nowadays, many practitioners are adopting these systems intending to boost efficiency, minimize cost, reduce chances of lost records, prevent medical and clinical errors, increase the credibility of billing procedures, and provide mobile access to patients.
Specialty-specific EHR software helps medical professionals and physicians to record clinical information, such as medical history, demographics, lab reports, social history, etc. These systems are relatively customizable and adapt to the unique needs of medical practices based on their medical specialty and background. For example, a dermatology-specific solution should include the ability to annotate images and store before/after pictures.
Unlike specialty practices that focus on specific medical diagnoses, family medicine practices cover a wide range of diseases due to which the system they need should have the ability to cater to multiple diagnoses. Thus, the right system for such practices will focus on
A right EMR solution for family medicine settings will not only help clinicians manage administration and billing areas but also deal with the clinical aspect of their workflow.
To help you understand what a family software solution is and what should be in the consideration list for buyers, we have created this buyer's guide. Here's what we will cover in the guide:
- EMR Software by Practice Size
- Family Practice EHR Software Workflow
- Benefits of PrognoCIS Family Practice EHR
- Features of Family Practice Software
- Which vendors should you consider for general practice EHR?
- What is the cost of Family Practice EMR
- Market Trends in the EMR Market
EMR Software by Practice Size
Every EMR Software is not a good fit for every practice. We know that an EMR system designed for multi-provider clinics or hospitals are not ideal for supporting a small or solo practice. So, we need to consider the factors that will make an EMR solution viable for your medical practice?
Every practice, whether it be multi-specialty clinics, solo or large healthcare organizations, its unique set of challenges must be addressed by the Electronic Health Record implementation.
Solo or Small Provider Practices
Solo or small healthcare settings with a limited number of staff members and a small office space generally have tight budgets as opposed to larger practices. Due to such limitations, most providers rely on cloud-based EMR systems and employ Free EMR solutions or choose the EHR Software vendor that comes at a low fixed monthly fee.
Many medium-sized medical facilities require unique features such as dedicated customer support, interoperability, extensive reporting functionality as well as multi-device support to monitor the overall performance of their practice because their budget is comparatively larger.
Larger healthcare practices provide medical services that fall under multiple medical specialties, including Pain Management, Orthopedics, Chiropractic Medicine, Surgery, Family Medicine, etc. These medical facilities usually comprise of fifteen to twenty medical providers and often require multi-device support for users to access the software simultaneously. A scalable solution and scheduling system to accommodate various providers, locations, and resources such as procedure room allocation, Dialysis Chairs, etc. are also among the requirements of larger medical practices.
Enterprise organizations or Hospitals
Enterprise organizations or hospitals have an extensive list of requirements, which are mostly documented as RFI or RFP formats to shortlist and assess vendors that can cater to their needs. Enterprises or Hospitals are among the most significant market segments of EMR companies such as McKesson, Cerner, Athenahealth, eClinicalWorks, Epic, NextGen, DrChrono, Allscripts, and Meditech, etc. These EHR vendors usually provide ideal software solutions for organizations including, PCMH, ACOs, CINs (Clinically Integrated Networks), IPAs, and Public Health Departments. They offer features such as inventory management modules, integration with multiple other medical devices or software, machines, and diagnostic equipment, interface with local labs (LIS), pharmacy management, electronic medication administration record (EMAR), and more.
Family Practice EHR Software Workflow
- Family Practice EHR systems include common complaints such as bronchitis, asthma, etc. They also offer procedure templates for colposcopy, cervical cone biopsy, and more.
- Primary care workflow support multiple diagnostic tests, monitoring, and therapeutic technology and treatments, including blood pressure monitoring, annual health evaluations, and more.
- Education options for patients are available, such as baby's first shots, etc. You can even import your own.
Benefits of Family Practice EHR
- A family practice EHR captures and stores patient data intuitively and securely. It helps an organization and its staff to document patient data using numerous data entry options such as voice recognition, point & click, and handwriting recognition. Once you enter the data into the Family Practice EHR, these software systems allow for fast retrieval via an intuitive search functionality so that users can search their entire patient database based on specific requests.
- Users can communicate easily with other medical facilities. Thet can share data with physicians, laboratories, or pharmacies. A Family Practice EHR supports multiple interfaces to improve inter-office collaboration, communication, and overall patient care.
- These systems make billing more efficient. Users can confidently charge the right level of service based on a patient's encounter using features such as built-in E&M coding. Moreover, patient encounters are instantly converted to paper claims and billable EDI for fast reimbursements.
- A Family Practice medical system works with multiple devices, including laptops, desktop computers, tablets, and smartphones, offering the latest technologies for your practice.
- The cloud-based technology of these software offers easy access to the Internet via a standard web browser.
Features of Family Practice Software
These EHR systems are designed to optimize the workflow management of family practice. It offers the features you need to improve patient care while combining clinical, front desk, billing, and administrative functions into a central practice management process.
- Built-in Quick Charting
Built-in quick charting templates can cater to the diverse needs of family practice and patients. When a user completes a chart for a well/sick child, new patient exam, or anything more complicated like an infectious disease, the software's intelligent templates help them to chart out the encounter with just a single click. Users can also create HPI templates that integrate fully with the EHR and workflow.
- Patient's Record Management
It is essential to maintain a record of patient registration, admission, and discharge. Registration includes the most crucial information about patients, such as contact information, insurance plan, address, and demographic. A patient is issued an ID known as Medical Records Number when he registers in Electronic Health Record Software. The patient's medical reports, observations, assessment, and diagnosis reports are linked to a patient's ID, the core of electronic health records.
- Computerized Physician Order Entry (CPOE)
Computerized physician order entry is another component of EHR systems used for electronic documentation. CPOE allows authorized users to document physical, history, nursing notes, etc.
- Physician Referrals
The Referral Management System allows users to send customized letters and chart notes to their referring providers with one-click.
- Laboratory Information System (LIS)
Laboratory Information System (LIS) is used to link billing, scheduling, and capture test results from laboratory components. This feature enables the hospital to integrate billing departments and laboratories.
- Choice of Charting Methods
Many data input methods, such as voice dictation, digital pens, text boxes, free texts, and drop-down menus, are available in EMR systems. Top EMR vendors offer all charting options to their customers.
- Health Maintenance Reminders
Health Maintenance Reminders help users to set up alerts on a daily, weekly, or monthly schedule. The system's integrated patient portal supports secure communication between providers and patients.
- Patient Portal
As healthcare costs go up, patients will require better services to be made available to them by their provider. Having a patient portal through which patients can access their medical records, request prescription refills or appointments, review lab orders, or make payments online is essential for exceptional patient experience.
- Medication Management
The solution automates medication management and order entry tasks, allowing users to focus on patients instead of data entry.
- Documentation Management
The integration of documents into the electronic charting process is complicated. These EHR systems allow users to capture and upload ultrasound Images and MRI's. Users can even scan and import externally produced digital MRIs and X-rays as well as other consultation letters and imaging reports into the chart. Documents are organized into different categories based upon a user's setup preferences.
- Scheduling and Appointment Reminder
A Family Practice EHR system comes with a rules engine that enables automated management of health maintenance alerts and regular follow-up reminders.
- Legal Protection
You must ensure that the EMR is HIPAA compliant to avoid penalties. One way to ensure that the software you are buying is HIPAA complaint is to ask for a Business Associate Agreement and have it signed by your vendor. A HIPAA compliant solution will have industry level standards for patient data protection.
While Apple products are widely used in the US, many EMR vendors do not provide EMR systems that are built for MAC. These are usually native windows platforms that require a third party software platform download before you can run these systems on your MAC. If you are a MAC user or prefer to use a MAC in your practice, do not opt for such an arrangement. Always inquire about which an EMR vendor supports platforms before making a purchase.
Which Vendors should you consider for General Practice EHR?
When looking for the EHR for general practices, GPs should consider their budget and be very sure of what features will best meet their practice's needs. The software must also be financially sustainable.
Epic's EHR is among the best software choices for private practices. It offers a fully functional standard EHR suite of solutions that includes an integrated practice management system. EPic can be deployed on the cloud and is also available on-premise basis.
Users can also access the system through its mobile interfaces - Canto for tablets, Haiku for smartphones, and Limerick for Apple Watch. The software aims to improve the quality of clinical care through population health management features, decision support modules, and patient engagement tools.
Rated #1 by KLAS for ambulatory practices with 11-75 providers, athenahealth is one of the best software solutions for family practice. The system offers users the benefit of fully-integrated billing and practice management.
The platform's workflow design aims to improve the quality of care through an integrated EHR homepage. The homepage allows users to have a single view of essential items and other priority tasks when needed for follow up. It offers a fully automated daily schedule which takes care of the necessary information on patients, such as visits and symptoms documented during intake.
MEDENT is the most suitable EHR solution for solo practices. It offers practice management and billing features in addition to a standard EHR suite. Users can access the software remotely via a companion mobile app.
The software's EHR dashboard and Chart Central allows users to have one-click access to patient documents, messages, labs, and records.
What is the cost of Family Practice EMRs?
Family Practice EMRs are lower priced as compared to specialty systems such as oncology, dermatology, or nephrology. A family practice EHR costs between $50 to $300 for a small medical practice, depending on the brand and the functionality offered.
The cost will increase if the practice opts for any of the following:
- Increased number of full-time providers who bill under their own NPI
- Server-based EMR rather than a cloud-based system
- Onsite or additional implementation hours
- Greater customization than the one offered by the EMR company
- Enhanced Data migration
Should you opt for a FREE EMR?
While there are less and less Free EMRs in the market, since Practice Fusion started a small licensing fee, many providers are unable to refuse the pull of free systems. Here are a few things to consider before you invest in such a system
- There is no free lunch. A free EMR either runs on an ad-supported model or shared your patient data with research companies, usually without your explicit approval.
- These systems have nonexistent support & training
- It is difficult to scale with a free EMR
- Many hidden costs become apparent after you've spent time in setting a free EMR in your practice.
Market Trends in the EMR Market
Importance of Meaningful Use certification - The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) was signed into law by President Obama in 2009. Medical practices can earn reimbursements of up to $44,000. The act improves technology adoption in medical facilities.
The EHR system has to follow the meaningful use standards defined under the HITECH Act to qualify for reimbursements. Medical Software vendors should ensure that their services and products follow HITECH guidelines.
Increased use of patient portals - These applications are secure and help providers manage patient communications effectively. Patient portals are gaining popularity in the EHR market space because it allows real-time sharing of prescriptions and test results with patients. Patients can simply log into their profiles to access their records, rather than calling up their physicians for information.
Software-as-a-service for cost-saving - Small and midsize practices typically hesitate to adopt technology for everyday operations because of high initial investments, deployment costs, and difficulty of use for non-technical users. Ever since government incentives have been linked to cloud-based EMR solutions, this buyer segment has had a significant rise in the adoption of these technologies.
The convenience of mobile applications - The skyrocketing usage of mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets, has made EMR applications gain popularity in the market. Mobile apps help practitioners log diagnoses, treatment plans, assessments, and prescriptions while working from the convenience of their homes without having to log into a computer. Mobile support is among the top considerations of EHR buyers.
Q: How do I migrate my patient data into EHR?
A: The software support team will help in migrating your patient data into your new EHR system. You will need your patient data, including demographics, insurance information, etc. in an appropriate format such as CSV, Excel, or PDF file.
Q: Do I need to install any specific hardware or software?
A: No, you don't need any specialized hardware or software. With cloud-based solutions, all you will need is a desktop or laptop and internet access. Users can use any web browser to access the system.
Q: What are the different options for implementation?
A: There are three basic implementation models - On-Premise, On-Demand, and Enterprise. You don't need a lot of investment and training with these models.
1. On-Demand - SMART Cloud Software as a Service (SaaS)
This subscription model includes support, hosting, maintenance, upgrades, security, and business continuity services. It eliminates the need for upfront costs on software, ongoing IT administration, and hardware.
2. On-Premise - Client Hosted
It requires users to keep their servers with the software installed for remote and local access. They can save data in their own office with better flexibility and control.
Some EHR systems are available for enterprise installations with reusable source code library and custom content to offer greater customization, flexibility, and integration opportunities.
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