Oncology EHR Software Buyers Guide
Last updated: September 26, 2023
Let’s Help You Pick the Right One!
It's safe to say an oncology waiting room is one of the most challenging places for patients to sit. With all the stress of ongoing or expected chemo-/radiotherapy sessions, this is natural and to be expected.
But the experience shouldn't have to be rendered any more harrowing than what can't be helped - through factors other than the sufferers' direct health concerns. We're talking about regular clinical procedures and service flows that can be improved: issues that a top-rated EMR oncology software suite can address quickly.
No, electronic health records can't help medical professionals perform miracles, sure, but a streamlined process can add the following fixes to the scenario:
- Provide doctors with the required patient data in an instant (allowing faster diagnoses)
- Enable quick diagnostic checks on patient treatment compliance and regulatory alignment
- Facilitate information sharing between doctors and patients, creating a more patient-friendly, inclusive relationship
- Free up doctors' time so they can see more patients on a daily basis, making it possible to get an appointment a few days or weeks earlier than expected
In direct or indirect ways, this can improve patient experiences and make it easier for oncologists to perform their daily tasks in a more organized, systematic manner.
In some facilities, modern oncology practices practically mandate electronic health record use in clinical settings. These setups, whose norms deserve imitation everywhere, understand the link between an empathetic course of all-around care and disease-treatment compliance.
Human life is priceless – and so an oncology EHR system makes for little administrative payment in the interest of its preservation.
What’s So Unique About Oncology EMR Software?
As a treating physician or another concerned medical official, you could certainly use a general-purpose EMR in your oncology ward. But over the long haul, and as your practice grows to accommodate more complex cancer/patient situations, the medical software could quickly become a rigid hindrance.
Oncology units geared to provide the best patient care tend to rely on unique therapeutic processes for their efficacy. Often, these protocols spring from integrated practice management frameworks that provide for cross-department treatments (since cancer patients can present with a range of emergency situations that fall outside the domain of a typical oncologist).
Sometimes, cancer-stricken individuals also tend to enroll in clinical trials by consent to combat particularly virulent strains of the illness that don’t respond to conventional treatment. In these cases, regular electronic medical records hardly provide the template maneuverability needed to successfully document the results. You need a more turnkey approach.
Find These Features First
Before you even vet your oncology EHR software on niche-specific matters, just ensure you have access to these features. It's what improves an EHR's general efficacy:
- Good customer support from the service provider
- Secure servers and backup systems (on-site and/or offsite)
- User-friendly interface and functions
- Compatibility with existing software
- An interactive patient portal to share information between doctors and patients
- Easy and secure patient data-sharing with other professionals/healthcare providers
Still, for our context, all this is not enough.
Oncology practices take care of an extensive range of tasks concerned with patient therapeutics, ranging from billing/clinical documentation to diagnosing problems to managing chemotherapy. The latter in itself requires meticulous work and precision, even from experienced practitioners.
A dedicated oncology EMR lightens all of this workload with automated features, so doctors and staff – simply put – have more time on their hands.
MCKESSON IKNOWMED EMR Dashboard
How Can Automation Work in Your Favor?
Automation can improve three specific aspects of your practice:
- It saves time, which means you and your staff are able to attend to more tasks/direct patient engagement each day.
- Automation ensures more accuracy by checking human error – negligent or otherwise (thereby ensuring patient safety).
- It makes your treatment strategies/protocols safer by automatically adjusting and tailoring treatments to patients’ ailment profiles – by way of a preemptive accounting for emergencies (common with chemotherapy drugs). One example is compensating for renal adversities when devising radiation oncology plans.
Manage Chemotherapy Better
But can technology really manage vital treatments better than the experts?
Well, the truth is it can.
Modern oncology EMR systems can draw patient information from your entire database and more (referential information from credible internet sources) to create customized treatment plans for every sign/symptom scenario. The only limiting factor here is data access. If the training data set is inadequate or flawed, the practice management software may not be able to discern any patterns that can be helpful in devising suitable courses of therapy.
In order to offset this risk, EMR software vendors strive to stay informed of developments in your niche to add relevant options/materials/filters as necessary.
Collect & Analyze Data
Oncology EHR software constantly analyzes data, patient/clinician feedback, and treatment responses. The ideal suites make these processes easy: an intuitive affair.
Also, remember that both you (as an oncologist) and your staff will need to attend to your patients. Nurses must also be able to add the details of their treatment actions in order to completely capture all minute details of the patient journey.
The EHR must allow for long-term data monitoring and capture for cancer patients, as the treatment path is rarely short-term (as in the case of some other acute emergencies).
Sharing and Interoperability
In the world of healthcare, collaboration is key. It's crucial for all the different players to work together and communicate about a patient's care. So, it should be easy to share data with experts and ensure they have all the information they need to make the best decisions.
But sharing information goes beyond just patient care. It's also about powering research efforts to fight against cancer. Your patients' data can be incredibly valuable in this battle, but only if researchers can access it in a way that's actually helpful. That's where top-notch oncology EHR software comes in, ensuring seamless interoperability.
Easy Post-Treatment Care
Taking care of cancer patients doesn't end when they leave the hospital. Your EMR software needs to support you in providing high-quality care post-treatment.
You can easily create a follow-up plan with a good oncology EHR suite and share it with others. Whether it's rehabilitation or follow-up procedures at different facilities, the system enables seamless collaboration and keeps everyone in the loop.
Although voluntary, this software certification ensures high IT standards, regulatory compliance and implementation specifications. For a field as intricate as oncology, this should be a prerequisite. So, when you’re out choosing a suitable EMR software for your practice, always check if your pick comes with this designation.
Top 5 Popular Oncology EMRs
Based on our analyses, the following comprise the top five oncology EMR solutions on the market at present:
NextGen EMR For Oncology
NextGen EMR provides templates that enable oncologists to digitize their chemotherapy treatments. The software simplifies the process of prescribing and tracking prescriptions. This helps patients and their administering physicians manage their side effects better.
Oncology EHR By CureMD
CureMD Oncology EHR optimizes cancer treatment workflows. Its automation capabilities minutely oversee lab work and adjust chemotherapy plans, avoiding patient noncompliance and potential adverse effects due to inadequate doctor supervision. After all, a timely notification system is central to avoiding undesired outcomes.
ARIA Oncology Information System By Varian
The ARIA Oncology Information System by Varian Medical Systems provides a complete EHR and image management solution for your practice. This cross-functional platform enables clinical staff to effortlessly access patient data from diagnoses through post-treatment follow-up – all in one place.
The key features of the software include:
- Evaluation of acute responses to treatment by utilizing disease-specific protocols
- Feedback loops tailored per procedure or protocol to enable the monitoring of delivered dosage
- Image review during treatments
- Plans based on outcomes obtained through comparisons between pre- and post-evaluation results
OncoEMR By Flatiron Health
OnccoEMR is top-rated for providing oncologists with analytics to measure care effectiveness. The software collaborates closely with Varian Medical Systems on the backend to ensure interoperability with ARIA. It further offers easy-to-use features for nurses in their daily work – while also helping doctors make better treatment decisions based on local, state, or national data/regulations.
iKnowMed Generation 2 By McKesson
The iKnowMed Generation 2 electronic health records (EHR) software, developed by McKesson Specialty Health, is a robust and intuitive solution specifically designed for oncologists and hematologists. The cloud-based platform supports all oncology-specific requirements and features tools such as chemotherapy order management, aiming to improve the quality and efficiency of cancer treatment across all care settings.
It was created in close collaboration with oncologists to ensure it delivers the right patient information at the right time. This system allows hospital staff to store patient information and manage treatment recommendations. Furthermore, it's certified by the ONC-ACB, making it compliant with healthcare regulations.
Important Question: Does it Enable Better Decision Making?
Many oncology electronic health records (EHRs) prioritize automation and time-saving for experts.
One might question if this alone is sufficient motivation to adopt such technology.
The answer is a resounding yes when considering the bigger picture.
Automated and efficient features provide physicians with instant access to vital information, particularly during emergencies where swift decision-making is crucial. Lengthy discussions to determine a course of action can be streamlined through convenient information viewing. This comprehensive perspective greatly enhances oncologists' ability to select the most optimal treatment plans.
Therefore, the value of EHRs in oncology cannot be overstated.
Here's the bad news:
There aren't many dedicated oncology EMR software on the market yet. Not as many as there are for other medical niches, that is.
Therefore, be prepared to pay a little more than what you’d have to for the average software program.
However (and this is a big one!), the outcome for both you and your patients will be worth it.