Electronic Health Records


Compare EHR Software   There are many electronic health record (EHR) systems on the market today. With so many software companies competing to serve hospitals and clinics, buyers must carefully evaluate their needs - both for today and for your future.  
  1. EMR (Electronic Medical Record) Background and History
  2. Inpatient and Outpatient Systems
  3. How do I Compare Leading Vendors?
  4. Plan for the Future
  5. Conclusion
EMR Background and History
Overview: The EMR, or Electronic Medical Record, was primarily developed as a charting tool for physicians. While early adoption was limited, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act provide incentive funding for providers to implement and use software. The ARRA fund began driving a large-scale move to electronic records in the mid-2000s. Benefits Include: With records stored electronically, health care organizations can backup and access patient data much more efficiently. Also, providers can take advantage of decision support tools, that can warn about drug interactions or alert that a patient is due for an important health procedure. HIPAA Requirements can be managed through Medcurity.com. Challenges: While the systems have been designed to meet government requirements, including the Meaningful Use measures, surveyed providers still find many systems impede their workflows rather than enabling them to provide better care. Careful review of available options is important, and SnapGuidance was built to help.    
Inpatient and Outpatient Systems
The outpatient EMR system is visit- or encounter-driven, and designed to capture care notes and coding to support ambulatory billing.   Clinics have long used Practice Management systems to support their patient billing and scheduling needs. Now, the PM capabilities are often baked into the EMR charting systems for an integrated approach.   Hospitals have many other needs, and EMRs can serve as full Hospital Information Systems, providing additional tools for lab, radiology, A/R, materials management, accounting, and much more.   Recently, the market has embraced integrated inpatient and outpatient systems. For example, Epic, Meditech, and Cerner offer integrated systems. The ambulatory providers can see all the hospital data without exchanging records, and if a patient is admitted into the ER, recorded outpatient data like medications and allergies would be readily available.    
How Do I Compare Leading Vendors?
  We recommend the following process for a health care organization. This can not be treated as merely an IT initiative, as the choice will impact the clinical and financial workflows of the whole organization.  
  1. Form a selection committee. Including members for various departments, including admitting and registration, medical, pharmacy, information technology, and most obviously and critically, a physician champion.
  1. As a group, identify your goals and priorities for the evaluation process and eventual implementation. For example, if Meaningful Use or PQRS is in the organization’s roadmap, you want to identify this early, so you are evaluating patient portals and factoring in associated costs during this process.
  1. Complete a quick RFQ using the form below. Identify vendors that focus on your specialties, sizes, and possibly geographic area when applicable. Ask colleague and browse at conferences to identify any other options.
  1. Solicit costs and schedule demos. Pricing can vary wildly, so obtaining an early budgetary quote can be helpful. Be wary of add-on costs and ask probing questions to ensure you have a complete quote. For example, an EHR system may appear to have all the functionality you need - however the demo included content for another vendor, that was not included on the quote you received.
Plan for the Future
  When your organization’s selection committee meets, it is important to carefully consider strategic imperatives for the next 5-10 years. These may be already defined by the board or by executive leadership.   If an acquisition is possible in the near future, software migration is a key talking point. Some systems store patient data in proprietary databases, and moving that data to another system in a complete manner can be nearly impossible.   If regulatory compliance is a factor, be sure to consider the impact this will have. Does the application vendor support submission to registries, or do they provide a registry for reporting? Are there extra costs involved to extract report data to CMS and other organizations?  
Complete the form on the other tab to compare leading EHR solutions. We can help you compare costs and features for the systems that can meet your organization's unique needs.