7 Key Features you want to make sure your EMR System has
Electronic Medical Records (EMRs) are software programs that are digital versions of the traditional paper-based medical records, that are normally found in a paper chart. They store your patient’s medical history, medications, immunization dates, doctors notes, etc. They are amazing platforms that really help centralize patient records, and in this day and age, they are essential in any modern day practice.
That being said, figuring out which EMR to use is not the easiest task. Most solutions offer a variety of different features and knowing what to choose can sometimes be overwhelming.
That’s why we complied a list of must-have features that every EMR should offer. However, before you start your hunt for the perfect EMR system, there are a few things you’ll want to double check before you dig deeper into the different types of features they offer.
First, make sure you understand what the solution offers in terms of security and privacy. While these two features are basic, they are extremely important when it comes to any system that handles patient data. Second, make sure they have a webinar or on-line training that will help you get used to using it. Generally, EMR solutions are not always that easy to navigate so having help right away will ease the learning curve.
Besides security, privacy, and support, the right EMR solution should be saving you time while helping you improve patient care. Below is a look at the top 7 key features that every EMR system must have.
Key Features of a Great EMR Solution
1. Customizable EMR Templates
One of the best features in any EMR system is the ability to create templates. Expect a good EMR to have easy-to-use templates where you can fill in the information quickly.
Templates will speed up the charting process so that you get it done in only a few taps, while also creating easy to view patient data for quick referencing.
You should also make sure you have the ability to create your own templates - as no two practices are exactly the same. That way, you can save your own frequently used information so that when you see patients with similar diagnoses you can speed up the entire workflow process.
Here’s an example of the various templates you could create on your EMR:
Day to day medical conditions/common patient encounters
Intakes and response letters
Quick-links to frequently used medications and diagnostic codes
New Consult Assessments
Other examples; newborn-4 yo checks, paps, IUD insertions.
You should never use an EMR that doesn’t have charting and customizable EMR templates.
TIP: If you work as a locum, or in more than one place, and find yourself working with several EMR systems, try creating your own templates and storing them in evernote so that you can easily copy and paste them whenever you need.
2. Reporting & 24/7 Access
You’ll want to make sure the electronic medical record system is available 24/7 from anywhere - this means it’s built on a web-based platform (cloud hosting) so that you can access it on any device (web, mobile or tablet) from anywhere you have an internet connection. This means you’ll get access to your patients records whether you’re in the clinic, at the hospital or on the go!
The best electronic medical records will let you set up customizable reports and let you generate them on a regular basis that works for you (weekly, monthly, quartley, etc.). Reports should be generated automatically based on all the information that your EMR collects, like patient history, documents, test results, financial data, and overall just any information that gets recorded.
For example, if you’re working in a lab-dependent practice then your EMR should electronically monitor the delivery, analysis, results, and certainty of any lab tests and provide charts and downloadable reports.
It’s best to make sure you ask your potential EMR solution how exactly their reporting system works and how you can best customize it to suit your practice.
3. Provider-to-provider Communications
Along with being able to access your EMR anywhere, you should also be able to share information between physicians. Being able to quickly receive or send patient records to someone else, say a referring physician, helps speed up your patient’s treatment time by making sure that every physician has an updated and accurate account of the patient’s history.
Aside from sending patient information, your EMR should have a centralized communication system so you can chat directly with another doctor or leave them messages. This centralizes patient-related communication and makes it easier to record and view up-to-date patient data.
4. Scheduling Features
Scheduling should be done inside your EMR system so that you can easily keep track of appointments. But what’s the difference then between having scheduling features within your electronic medical record software system versus. just having an electronic appointment software?
Well, if your scheduling system is kept inside your EMR then anytime you schedule an appointment or a follow-up or reminder, you’ll have the ability to notify your patients immediately. This really helps save time in the office (for example, no one will need to make a reminder call), as well decrease the amount of missed appointments.
Having a scheduling feature is a very powerful tool since you can usually customize it to meet a specific need. For example, scheduling reminders for test results.
Overall scheduling features should improve your productivity by centralizing a lot of your admin processes and organizing your calendar and notification system.
The ability to quickly send prescriptions and authorize refills is a great feature in any EMR system. This feature will not only make it easier for your patients to get their medications (no more poorly written prescriptions), but you’ll be able to communicate directly with pharmacies. For example, you can forward the prescription directly to your patients preferred pharmacy.
Besides two-way communication with pharmacies, your EMR should also track medications that have been prescribed to your patients and have the ability to notify you if any of their medications might interact with other medications they’re taking, or with any allergies they may have.
This helps make sure you’re always prescribing safely. A great additional feature to this is when an interaction or potential harmful effect is detected then an alternative solution is suggested.
6. Patient Portals
Patient portals are a great way to help educate patients and give them a platform to exchange information with their doctors and speed up their recovery time. A good EMR will provide a secure login for patients where they can easily access:
Educational materials (like care-instructions).
Forms to sign or download.
Information from their last visit.
A list of their allergies, immunizations, and medications.
Recent doctor visits & discharge summaries.
Prescription refill request.
Patient portals are a great way to encourage patients to book appointments online, which reduces phone calls and admin tasks. Additionally, it gives them a centralized place where all their medical health information is kept and updated. Some EMRs let you customize the portal so you can share newsletters, preventative care recalls and targeted health promotions.
7. Lab Integration
If you want to use your EMR to streamline your practice and boost your efficiency then you need to make sure it integrates well with a laboratory, whether the lab is on or off site.
This will make it easy to monitor the delivery of test samples and track results. The results will automatically be added into the patient’s chart, which saves you time by not having to manually enter each lab/image result. If your patients results come back and are abnormal in any way then it’s typical that you’d be notified immediately on the EMR screen, or some type of banner would pop up alerting you.
If you’ve chosen an EMR that also has a patient portal then your patient will also be able to access their lab results as soon as they’re ready.
A good lab integration will not only make communication between you and lab easier, it should display the results in an easy-to-read format so that they are easy to understand for both you and your patient.
What’s the #1 EMR Feature?
While everything mentioned above helps improve efficiency, the number 1 feature to look for when choosing any EMR system is flexibility.
The ability to customize your EMR system and make it work for you however you want to use it, whether in a clinic or office setting, is extremely valuable. Being able to adjust templates, dashboards and report functionalities so that they make sense to you will help make the EMR easier to use on a daily basis.
The Bottom Line…
As technology advances EMR solutions are getting better and better as more features are being catered to doctors individual needs. Having all this technology helps speed up admin processes, improve patient-care and overall save you time.
Make sure you look for an EMR that includes all 7 features above, along with privacy, security and ease-of-use.