Electronic Health Record: Pick the Right EHR for Your Practice

Electronic Health Record (EHR) systems are an integral part of the modern-day health system, but picking the right one is not so simple. There are many key aspects to spot and distinguish EHR options to help providers decide which is more suited to their practice’s requirements. As you will see below, most of the EHR systems currently available in the market do not come in a one-size-fits-all format, they are usually specific to a certain specialty or with minimum features to only cover one aspect of the practice operations. We suggest looking for an EHR that can easily adapt to the explicit needs of your clinic. But first, here’s what you need to know about and Electronic Health Record System.

What is an EHR?

An Electronic Health Record (EHR), functions as a cohesive system that a practice can use to keep track of their patient’s health and financial information. It is software that keeps an electronic version of every single piece of patients’ care record. From their full names and addresses to their medical condition, treatment, and insurance coverage/payment plan.

One of the main goals of keeping everything stored in a single system is increased efficiency that allows for enhanced workflows and easy access to information.

Benefits

EHR has far-reaching benefits. Not only does it make it simpler for a clinicians to access patient data (charts, diagnosis, etc.) remotely, they can also be made aware of any potentially dangerous medication errors. The best EHR shares health information with other providers and EHR system as and when needed through interoperability. Allowing a clinician to learn about crucial lab values quickly. This kind of information-sharing is a step towards improving a patient’s overall health outcome in the long run.

Types of EHR Systems

There are different ways Electronic Health Record systems can be configured. Each has its pros and cons, depending on a medical practice’s needs and requirements at the time. The three basic EHR systems are:

1. Physician Hosted System

This means that all patient data is hosted on a system within a specific practice/physician’s servers. The physician is responsible for acquiring all the necessary hardware and software needed to operate it. As well as continued maintenance and security of the patient data stored is the sole responsibility of the physician or practice.

An EHR system managed by a physician at their medical practice is beneficial for larger practices that can cover the overhead expenses of such complex software. Plus, having the servers located on-site also allows efficiency and makes for a reliable source of information.

2. Remotely Hosted System

Remotely-hosted systems shift the storage of data from the physician to a third-party service provider. This third party is responsible for maintenance, data backup, and security. This shift of responsibility is useful for small to mid-size practices that want to focus more on collecting information rather than storing it. Plus, it eliminates all IT headaches that can take the focus away from providing quality patient care.

3. Remote Systems

There are three variants to a remote system.

Subsidized

A subsidized system involves an agreement with an entity (like a hospital) that subsidizes the cost of an EHR. Usually, a physician forms a relationship with a hospital, which possesses control of the data. However, this type of remote system can bring up legal issues, such as antitrust or data ownership concerns.

Dedicated

A dedicated host system means that physicians can store EHR on a vendor’s server. These servers are usually in a specific location, under the control of the vendor.

Cloud

One of the most popular remote systems in the market that is adopted by many renowned practices and healthcare providers across the United States. As part of the modern-day health system, a cloud remote system doesn’t need a physician to store data on their server or any third-party vendor’s server. Instead, all data is stored “in the cloud”. That means the data is always secure and easily accessed without any need of purchasing expensive hardware to keep up and running. As long as there is internet, patient data is readily available to physicians and practices.

Choosing an EHR That Meets Your Needs

Cloud-based EHRs are cost-effective, especially for organizations not capable of hiring a dedicated team of IT professionals for regular maintenance and management of patient data.

However, larger health systems like hospitals can afford expensive hardware and employ an IT team. On-premise (physician-hosted) EHR is ideal as hospitals want absolute control over data, including security, optimization as well as infrastructure.

Comparing Different EHRs

One EHR may not be better than the other, but we can always find the right EHR depending on the practice’s needs and requirements.

Hosted EHR vs. Server-Based EHR

A hosted system means that all software is hosted by an entity on its local servers. This entity will handle data security and backup. Despite a low upfront cost, a hosted EHR can be slow or lagging depending on the distance between the practice and the servers hosting the data.

On the other hand, a server-based Electronic Health Record involves servers available on location at the medical practice. There are more upfront expenses such as hardware and installation, however, these costs can work themselves out in comparison to leasing hosted EHR software.

Cloud vs. Local Server (On-Premise)

The main difference between these two is who manages the patient data. The cloud-based system always involves third parties that manage and maintain the data stored in the cloud. On-premise systems let physicians host and handle the software locally as well as manage the data on their terms.

Potential Risks Associated with Using an EHR System

Like all things there are liabilities and risks involved when using EHR, here are a few tips to help navigate potential liability risks.

Security

To protect patient data, a physician should be conscious of the terms of agreement with an EHR vendor. This includes knowing the location of data stored and who has access to it. Choose a vendor wisely, one that follows all relevant state and federal requirements regarding confidentiality and security of health and personal information; specifically a HIPAA-compliant service like MediFusion.

Data Integrity

An EHR can only be as accurate as the information provided. Incorrect data could disrupt the efficacy of the entire system. Ensure that information is properly entered for the correct patient otherwise it is difficult to determine which physician or staff member recorded the data that could be of significant importance.

Contractual Matters

One should be observant while entering into a contract with an EHR vendor. Only after thoroughly going through the terms, reading every part of the agreement should you sign the contract. This can make a world of difference as not reading the terms can make your practice vulnerable to medical malpractice and facing lawsuits.

Ownership

A good EHR vendor relationship starts with a clear understanding between vendor and practice. A physician should hold ownership of patient data. Patients can get hurt if they cannot get access to their vital health records for personal litigation, the continuation of care, or disability claims.

Outdated Technology

Just because there are many cloud-based EHR services in the market, making bold claims, doesn’t mean they are reliable. Do not choose an EHR system that can render patient data useless in the event of a vendor’s insolvency. This can be a major problem for your practice if you are not able to access the data stored in an EHR.

Choose Wisely

In conclusion, the first step to finding the perfect EHR for your practice is to understand the pros and cons. You want to pick something tailor-made for your organization and not something generic.

If you don’t have the flexibility in terms of budget, it may not be in your interest to opt for a system that requires infrastructure or costly installation.

In that case, cloud-based EHR is an ideal choice. However, it is important to pick a vendor that delivers HIPAA-compliant services.

If you’re looking for reputable service providers, consider going for MediFusion. Not only do we offer FREE EHR service but also Practice Management solutions to help independent practices grow.



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