Public Health EHR Software Buyers Guide
Last updated: December 06, 2023
Public Health EHR - Restructure the Right Way
While some medical professionals only focus on the patients that walk in their doors, others have a different approach. Public health practitioners must care about the community as a whole and if you’re on such a team you know the unique challenges & requirements of this niche.
Can EHR serve this group of people well? Yes. IF you pick niche appropriate software.
Don’t settle for the usual products, because you’ll miss out on how technology can help you do your work:
- More efficiently
- With less effort than before
Here’s what will make the difference.
The Public Health Niche—What Your EHR Must Cater for
During the day to day activities of the public health niche, you must ensure all your tools and resources are designed to help navigate:
- An ever changing healthcare system
- Requirements of local health departments (LHDs)
- Reporting to entities that provide funding
- Communication with state, federal and county role players
Now, let’s get into particulars of what your ideal EHR for the Pubic Health environment looks like.
The 5 Niche-Specific Features You Need
Helping With Your Data Sharing
You don’t simply monitor a patient’s information, test results or medication. You’re responsible for data of large groups of people. And yes, your EHR can help you with this.
At the moment the technology may not support the real time data you would love to have at your fingertips for use in assessing population health. However, there are many features that can help you with reporting which is necessary, such as electronic data from point of care, shared to:
- ER rooms
- Statistics bureaus
The important factor: Does the EHR system integrate and communicate with these entities’ systems? If it does your EHR software will help you with:
- Policy development
- Empowering communities
The information you collect on your EHR system is invaluable, but only if it is accessible by the important role players who form part of your public health network.
A Modern Research Assistant
Closely linked to the previous matter is your research. For accurate research projects, you need accurate data, relevant to the topic you’re busy with. A general system won’t provide you with the features to collect this data. You need a customizable EHR system.
You also need research appropriate features. One handy tool is identifying patients on your system that adhere to certain guidelines. If you’re launching a clinical trial you want to be able to easily source appropriate candidates. You can do this manually, but that will take much more time. Investing in a ‘smarter’ EHR from the very start will save you time (therefore money) in the long run.
High end public health EMR serve as basis for population level research as they provide data for analysis. A system assists in collecting it and ensuring quality, as digitized data is less prone to human error.
Registration Portal is Vital
In the public health arena you need to engage with LHDs all the time. You know they have unique requirements, so make sure your EHR won’t hamper this process.
For starters you need to consider different scales for payment. An effective Public Health EMR system will automatically allocate a patient according to family income.
For this process you need personal information. Ideally, ensure you can collect this information in a secure manner, with confirmation from the patient that he or she supplied the correct data. An electronic signature pad is a handy (and valuable) investment.
All Forms on Hand
You know how many standardized forms the public health sector works with and your EHR can help you manage this better. Instead of wasting time and paper by printing multiple forms, you can simply access the appropriate one where it’s stored on your EHR system. This includes forms on:
- BCCCP (Breast Cancer Cervical Cancer Screening program)
- Sexually Transmitted Diseases
- Adult Health
- TB Clinical Forms and more
The bonus is that a form filled in on the EHR system offers the data up for use immediately after submission (instead of an office worker entering it into the network later on, taken from a written document). The data becomes part of their patient files, but is also available to use in reporting if needed.
Remember: Manual entering of details always carries the risk of human error, no matter how well trained your staff is.
Be Mobile and in the Cloud
You won’t always have the luxury of working from an office and with modern technology this doesn’t matter as much. You can still access vital information about patients, diseases or other data, as long as you have an appropriate device and an internet connection.
To make this happen, ensure your vendor uses a cloud-based system, instead of you hosting your data on servers on your premises. Ideally you also must be able to access information via any device:
- Desktop computer
This means less of an investment in hardware because all your staff can instantly use the new EHR features via their personal devices.
Important: General Features You Can’t Go Without
Of course you also have to rate the system in general. This will affect how quickly you can integrate this into your functioning, as well as how it will be received by your peers or employees. These features matter to most teams:
- The user-friendliness of the system and the intuitiveness of the layout
- Quality of customer service so you can ask questions whenever you have a problem
- Support services to limit downtime
- Cost compared to list of features so you get value for money and can show sponsors that money is spent wisely
- Training provided by the vendor will keep your learning curve short
A dynamic billing system
ICD 10 codes loaded so you can request claims faultlessly and quickly without the need to look up any details
It’s clear that no public health system should be without an EHR system. But pick wisely to ensure long term success for your projects.