EMR…EHR…these little acronyms pack a punch when it comes to the success of your ophthalmology practice. While both are focused on helping practices adhere to mandated digital record keeping laws (and the elimination of paper records), it’s important to understand the differences between the two before your practice makes the move toward implementation.
EMR: Electronic Medical Record
Think of an EMR as a patient’s digital medical information for your specific medical practice only. All of the patient’s chart is digitally stored with full access to any type of information regarding the patient’s medical history, past diagnoses and treatments as well as future treatment plans. All information regarding interactions/communications between the patient and your office (doctors, technicians, front desk, etc.) can be stored in an EMR.
The EMR can be used to send patients reminders about routine health screenings, follow-up appointments, checkups, preventative care, etc. It’s an excellent way to improve the flow of communication and provide a higher level of patient care.
Mnemonic Tip: EMR – medical – specifically medical practice
EHR: Electronic Health Record
An EHR is similar to an EMR in that it contains all of a patient’s medical information, but the information included in the chart spans across multiple providers as opposed to a singular practice. It provides a more comprehensive picture of the patient’s health. EHRs can – and should be – shared with other providers to allow for a seamless flow of patient information. Interoperability is the key word for EHRs.
By having a more complete view of the patient, other medical providers have the tools to make more educated decisions about future care, gain access to the most updated information possible and provide the very best patient care possible. Patients will not have to repeat their medical history with other specialists; those specialists will have the information at their fingertips.
Mnemonic Tip: EHR – health – broader health picture
Benefits of EMRs and EHRs
Both EMRs and EHRs offer a host of benefits to the patient and the practice alike. The efficiencies gained by both systems can result in these medical improvements:
- Reduction in medical errors
- Ease of deciphering medical notes made by doctors
- Reduction in duplicate testing
- Time and money savings for patients and providers
- Accuracy of medication prescribing
- Proper medical diagnoses
Which to Choose: EMR or EHR?
Whether you are a new ophthalmology practice needing to set up electronic charts or a practice that needs to update an old or inefficient system, it can be very daunting to decide which system is right for your practice. Not only do you have to choose between an EMR or EHR, there are also dozens of different vendors for each type. There are many practices that spend thousands of dollars on one type and brand of system only to later learn that it did not truly fit their needs. Back to the drawing board means more investment of your revenue into these systems. Because these are very costly (but mandatory) systems to implement, it’s important to weigh the options carefully – and get help if needed.
Unfortunately, there is no easy answer to the EMR or EHR question; the best decision will vary from practice to practice. A reputable consultant can help assess your practice and determine the system that will meet budgetary constraints while also providing the best level of patient care possible. The determination may also depend on the owner’s future plans for the practice: a retiring physician may wish to spend the least amount possible which will drive the decision. The consultant can also help your practice weigh the pros and cons of different vendors, again helping select the one that meets your specific needs. The whole goal with these systems is that your practice can provide the maximum level of care at each patient visit.
After Choice Comes Implementation
The implementation of EMR or EHR systems can be equally as overwhelming and even potentially disastrous if done incorrectly. Hiring a full-time qualified Project Manager is necessary to coordinate and guide all of the communication between the practice and the software vendor. You must make sure your practice is clinically ready for full implementation:
- Ready to meet MACRA and Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) standards
- Avoid disruption of incentive payments
- Keep patient flow steady and wait times down during implementation
- Maintain physician and staff productivity and efficiency
- Ensure your workflow is uninterrupted
The consultant you choose should specialize in the field of ophthalmology and have a strong track record of the seamless implementation of EMR and EHR systems for active practices.
Ophthalmology EMR/EHR Implementation Experts
To learn more about how our MSO can help your practice, contact Advantage Healthcare Consulting, a division of Advantage Administration, today.