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The use of EMRs, EHRs, PMs and other software tools are a required part of any healthcare professional’s office setup. Increasingly, modern EMRs and EHRs can perform a variety of vital functions. But when using these tools, there are a few points that clinicians should follow. If not adhered to, their practice may start to experience problems.

EHRs v EMRs v PMs:

Sometimes these terms are used interchangeably. Additional confusion is created due to the fact that some companies now provide software systems that offer an EHR, EMR and PM system as one bundled package. However, these systems are intended to deliver specific functions.

EHRs: A software that holds the digital record of a patient’s health information. One purpose of an electronic health record is to allow the patient’s health information (PHI) to move with the patient.

EMRs: Essentially, an electronic medical record software is a digital version of a patient’s medical chart. These are the modern versions of what used to be a paper medical chart. EMRs were mainly used for recording patient diagnoses, procedures and treatments.

PMs: Practice management software helps with a practice’s billing and administrative tasks. This often includes scheduling appointments, capturing patient data, generating reports and maintaining insurance provider data. A good practice management setup is critical for accurate revenue cycle management. It will include such vital information like claims management data, payer reimbursement fee schedules and pre-authorization data.

These systems allow medical providers to become more efficient. However, these same systems can simultaneously create new challenges and problems.

Many of these healthcare software systems are used to help with back-end billing processes. EHRs and PMs may even integrate with other software applications, such as patient registration and scheduling. When these systems integrate with other medical practice operations, they are a great help. Beyond billing and collections functions, some other features can include: E/M coding assistance, lab reports, prescription ordering, radiology reports, clinical decision support, etc.

A good combination of software tools should create a system for healthcare providers that allows easy access to a variety of data points and documentation. These features will benefit a practices revenue cycle over the long-run. This allows clinics and practices to stay abreast of insurance payer updates and new regulatory changes.

Software & System Questions to Consider:

Whether it is an EMR, EMR or PM there are some general questions that medical clinicians should ask.

[1] Is there good customer support? How difficult is it to reach customer service if there is a problem?

[2] Is the system stable and secure? How robust is the system? Does it feel glitchy or often need updates? Is every piece of the system HIPAA compliant?

[3] Is the UI well-designed? Is the user interface (UI) and overall system easy to use for both technologically savvy and non-technological savvy users? Do health professionals dislike the system’s layout?

[4] Is the system elastic? Can the software system easily scale up in size and complexity as the medical practice grows?

Beyond the previous questions, there more specific issues to remember. As a general principle, a EMR and/or EHR should add “value” to a facility or practice. Sometimes benefits are gained if the new system is flexible and has few integration issues. Compatibility with pre-existing devices, operating systems and databases will make any transition, and future upgrades, much easier. The technological solution that an organization has in place should help to deliver excellent patient care while controlling cost.

This is particularly true now that many healthcare providers feel that there has been a growth in the amount of “documentation” that is required. Some clinicians feel like they are spending too much time on data entry, compliance and record keeping. However, a well-designed user interface can minimize these frustrations.

The benefits of well-designed EHRs and EMRs are:

  • Increased efficiency: A reduction in the amount of physical paperwork and record duplication.
  • Reduction in healthcare mistakes: Good documentation can quickly alert healthcare providers to possible errors.
  • Optimize staff workflow: For some data entry fields, nonclinical staff can perform these tasks.

Some problems that can occur with these software systems include:

  • Reduced patient interaction: Clinicians are so engrossed in correctly inputting data that they almost forget that a patient is in the room. This reduction in actual patient “face-time” and maintenance of good eye contact can diminish the overall experience for the patient. The patient should be the center of clinician’s attention and not the software tools.
  • Clinicians are in a hurry, so they start to copy and paste diagnosis and procedure notes from one patient’s chart to another. Over time, this pattern of copying and moving forward information from one patient to the next could create issues. These actions may enhance efficiency, but it can also trigger a potential fraud investigation by insurance payers. Particularly if there are a vast number of medical claims that are nearly identical.

About Our Company:

Advanced Billing & Consulting Services (ABCS RCM) provides experienced, professional and friendly healthcare revenue cycle management services. We work with health professionals so that they can overcome business obstacles.

At ABCS RCM, we have the ability to work with a variety of billing, PM and EHR systems. This allows us to provide customized, provider-centered services that are flexible & professional.

Reach out to us for more information. Call us directly at 614-890-9822 or email us.

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