4 Reasons You Should Use an EMR for Practice Management

When you think about your EMR, documentation might be the first thing that comes to mind. And while defensible documentation is crucial—and should be the main component of your EMR—there are other perks your software vendor can offer you. One of the most efficient, cost-effective options available through your EMR is a practice management suite. Think you already have your processes on lock? Even if you do, you can further streamline your business when you take advantage of all of the benefits your software offers.

As this InformationWeek article explains, “Ideally, EHR and practice management systems work together so that patient registrations become patient health records, and the diagnosis recorded into the EHR turns into a properly coded insurance claim.” Sounds pretty slick, right? If you aren’t convinced yet, here are five mission-critical practice management functions made oh-so-simple with an EMR:

1. Capture Patient Demographics

When a patient enters your clinic, you’ve likely gathered all of his or her demographics before the appointment. You’ve got names, numbers, insurance information, and addresses. But, where do you store it all? Are you leaving PHI in paper files on your front desk or in a filing cabinet—thus putting your practice at risk for a HIPAA violation?

The best way to collect—and store—patient demographics is by entering this information into your secure EMR. Your EMR should provide a patient intake form option. That way, you can be sure you’ve collected all the relevant information, confirmed that it’s up to date, and stored all of it in a secure, cloud-based system. And if you ever need to access any patient info, it’s just a few clicks away. No more digging through stacks of paper—or shuffling through filing cabinets—to locate your patient data.

2. Schedule Appointments

Just like those stacks of files, your appointment book shouldn’t be left to the whims the paper gods—and at risk for HIPAA violations, natural disasters, or misplacement. With the right EMR, you can easily schedule patients, color-code their appointments, manage multiple schedules, and even send automatic appointment reminders. You’ll save time and money when you let your EMR help you decrease no-shows through a seamless scheduling system.

3. Maintain Payer List

With an EMR, you can easily assign the appropriate payers to each of your patients, and it’s simple to keep a comprehensive list that’s available for updating at any moment. Plus, your EMR should offer documentation safeguards based on your payer list. For example, your Medicare patients should trigger certain documentation alerts. With the right EMR, you can control all of this within your payer settings.

4. Generate Reports

Your EMR contains a wealth of information, and when paired with your documentation, you can generate and analyze a number of metrics through easy-to-run reports. With a good EMR in place, you can track no-shows, provider productivity, completed documentation, and even PQRS progress. Running these reports regularly will give you true insight into your business.

5. Submit Clean Claims

The first step to submitting clean claims is creating clean documentation. Your EMR should already have that down pat. But, does your EMR automatically generate CPT codes that flow into your billing software or to your billing service? If not, it absolutely should. Dr. Heidi Jannenga explains in this article that using “a medical billing software or service that is integrated with your EMR means that demographic and billing data will be seamlessly transmitted from your documentation system to your billing company.” The more you can automate processes through your EMR, the more time—and effort—you can save doing routine tasks. And that, ultimately, allows you to spend more time doing what you love: helping patients.

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If you’re looking to improve your processes, look no further than your EMR’s practice management system. As this HealthIT.gov article simply states, “79% of providers report that with an EHR, their practice functions more efficiently.” Are you taking advantage of everything your EMR has to offer?


Why You Need an EMR for PQRS

Every November, Medicare releases its Final Rule. And nestled among the many regulatory updates—like warm buns in a basket—are the PQRS requirements for the coming year. The 2016 Final Rule reveals that not much is changing for rehab therapy providers on January 1. But, even so, satisfying PQRS requirements is rarely a piece of cake—er, bite of bun? Anyway, as I was saying: The rules can seem convoluted, and adhering to them requires precise documentation. Here’s how an EMR can help you remain compliant in the following areas:

Tracking Progress

In 2016, eight measures apply to physical therapy, ten to occupational therapy, and a whopping one measure applies to speech-language pathology. And the reporting requirements are pretty strict, as Brooke Andrus explains in this article: “Each eligible professional (EP) must report on nine measures across three NQS domains for at least 50% of Medicare Part B FFS patients.” That means PTs and SLPs are automatically subject to the MAV process, which allows Medicare to review their data to ensure they’ve reported on the maximum number of available measures for their specialties. With all of these complexities in mind, how do you track your progress? And how do you know that you are reporting on all of the measures available to you?

Things can get really complicated when there’s that much data to account for, but the right EMR system makes the process simple by providing you with user-friendly reports that accurately display your progress. That way, you can adjust your processes as the year goes on. Sure beats trying to manually track all of that data.

Satisfying Measures Requirements

One of the potential time-sucks of reporting PQRS data properly is the need to document your measures. It can be difficult to remember which measures to report—and at which intervals. A great EMR will prompt you to report any necessary PQRS data at the right time (e.g., some measures are only reported at initial evaluation, while others require reporting at every visit). That way, you take the guesswork out of satisfactorily reporting, and you can always count on your documentation to be compliant.

Something to be aware of: as always, your bottom line depends on your compliance. When it comes to PQRS, you’re looking at a hefty 2% negative payment adjustment in 2018 if you don’t satisfactorily report on the measures that apply to your specialty in 2016. But, if you use an EMR, you don’t have to leave anything to chance. You’ll know exactly how many patients you’ve seen, which data you’ve reported, and how far you’ve progressed toward meeting the minimum requirements for reporting.

Submitting Data

Okay, so now you know that an EMR can help you easily track your PQRS data, satisfy the reporting requirements for all your measures, and avoid the penalty. But, I’ve yet to cover one very important part of this whole shebang: actually submitting your PQRS data to Medicare. Here’s the cold, hard truth: not every EMR is equipped to handle your data. So, make sure you look for an EMR with a certified CMS PQRS registry, meaning the system automatically compiles and submits your data to CMS on your behalf. No hassle necessary.

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Attempting to report on PQRS without an EMR is a lot like preparing a hearty meal without hot buns: sad and pointless. All kidding aside, keeping track of all of the regulatory changes on your own is enough to make your head spin. But the right EMR can help you avoid penalties, stay compliant, and cleanly submit data to CMS like a hot knife through butta’.


Physical Therapy EMR: Smarter, Faster, and Better Than Ever

Technology moves at lightning speed, and that leaves many EMR systems looking outdated and cluttered with burdensome processes—at best. That said, one technology model rises above the rest in the physical therapy EMR game: SaaS, or software as a service. TechTarget defines SaaS as “a software distribution model in which applications are hosted by a vendor or service provider and made available to customers over a network, typically the Internet.” In the EMR market, SaaS vendors are improving software implementation, updates, and usability while addressing customer needs quickly and consistently.

Implementation

When you use a server-based EMR, getting up and running means going through a strict, inflexible implementation process. While some EMRs on the market today still require practices to jump through tons of hoops just to get started, cloud-based EMR systems are doing things differently. Thanks to the SaaS model, users can start using the software after a short setup period. This typically involves configuring settings and/or importing data. The best part? The implementation process now fits provider’s schedules—not the other way around. Now, practices can get going with their new EMRs faster than ever before, all while experiencing minimal disruption to their operations—and their cash flow.

Updates

The process of updating cloud-based EMRs also has greatly improved. Now, updates can occur as frequently as multiple times a day. That way, everyone always has the latest version of the software—without the inconvenience of manual upgrades. Moreover, changes are made more incrementally, which minimizes disruption to users and makes it easier for them to learn and adapt as the software evolves. Another plus: Providers aren’t responsible for managing the updates. As this Handshake article highlights, “Under the SaaS model, since the software is hosted by the vendor, they take on the responsibility for maintaining the software and upgrading it, ensuring that it is reliable and meeting agreed-upon service level agreements, and keeping the application and its data secure.”

Usability

Modern SaaS vendors improve EMR usability through thoughtful iterations that greatly increase system customization. Additionally, the SaaS model allows applications to adapt to the device each person is using, thus ensuring the most important functionality is available in the right context. Any iPad fans out there? Well, thanks to cloud-based technology, your EMR can adapt to your favorite device. Finally, as this TechSoup article points out, increased usability of SaaS technology eliminates the need for a robust IT team because cloud-based software systems “generally don’t require specialized knowledge for day-to-day operation and maintenance.”

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So, what EMR system is smarter, faster, and better than ever? One that uses a technology-focused SaaS model that offers superior usability, automatic updates, and simple implementation.


EMR Can Help with the ICD-10 Switch; Here’s How

Love it, or hate it? Tired of reading about it, or just beginning to delve into all of the details? Regardless of which of these phrases most closely describes your relationship with ICD-10, there several things you can do to make this transition a smooth one. One of the most effective? Using an EMR. If you’re already using a system, great; now’s the perfect time to evaluate whether it offers everything you need to be successful with ICD-10 adoption. “Because of ICD-10’s complex code structures, implementing associated changes in electronic health records, billing systems, reporting packages and other decision-making and analytical systems will require either major upgrades of multiple systems or outright replacement of older systems,” says this HealthIT article. So, as we move toward and beyond October 1, the necessity of making these changes is inevitable. Here are some ways that an EMR will help you with the ICD-10 switch:

Efficiency

Do you love thumbing through hundreds of pages of codes? I know that I don’t enjoy spending extra time on tasks I could complete more efficiently—and accurately—using the proper tools. When you use an EMR, you’ll save yourself the papercuts and the time it takes to find the most accurate diagnosis code in a 10-pound book. However, while coding by the book might be inefficient, a code book can act as a useful guide, and it may offer additional information about the ICD-10 codes specific to your your area of practice. That said, usefulness doesn’t always equate to efficiency. To boost your productivity, look for an EMR that offers an easy-to-use ICD-10 tool and plenty of free customer service to help you navigate the new functionality.

Accuracy

Working more efficiently doesn’t count for much if you sacrifice accuracy for speed. And when it comes to ICD-10, the proof is in the accuracy pudding, which means you need to whip up some accurate codes—quickly and without much time to “chill” for the best results. So, instant accuracy pudding it is: you can use your EMR’s functionality to help you quickly narrow down all of your coding options. Once you’ve made your selection, you’ll want to make sure you have clean documentation to back up the medical necessity of treatment.

So, if your EMR does not support clean and accurate documentation in addition to offering an intelligent ICD-10 tool, it might be time to make a change. As this Government Health IT article points out, “With the introduction of ICD-10, EHRs must also be capable of producing documentation with a high degree of specificity and ideally offer the appropriate codes.” Even when you have the help of an EMR for coding and documentation, you’ll still need to use your clinical judgement. But, with the help of an intelligent code picker, you’ll have an easier time sifting through all 68,000 codes to find the precise ones you need.

Interoperability

The transition to ICD-10 has the potential to provide better data for evaluating and improving the quality of patient care; interoperability aims to achieve those same goals. And—you guessed it—an EMR can help connect these two pieces of the patient care puzzle. As this HIMSS article explains: “In the larger context, ICD-10 is not a competing initiative but an enabler for the EHR adoption to help build the data infrastructure needed for a nationwide healthcare system where clinicians, hospitals, laboratories and pharmacies can share patient information electronically, in a secure way.”

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Like it or hate it, to face ICD-10 with efficiency, accuracy, and interoperability, you’ve got to adopt—or evaluate and change—your EMR.


Physical Therapy EMR, Practice Management Software, and Billing System: What’s in a Name?

Say my name, say my name. When no one is around you, say PT EMR, PMS, and billing system, I love you—if you ain’t runnin’ game. Huh? Destiny’s Child may have said it best; but while rehab therapy providers aren’t runnin’ game, they might feel played by all of the indistinguishable healthcare jargon that directly impacts their workflow. So, what’s in a name? Could it be that you are at the crib with a misunderstanding? Here’s what you need to know about EMR, practice management software, billing systems, and how each one impacts your processes:

Physical Therapy EMR

You are, in fact, on PhysicalTherapyEMR.net, so I’m going to take a wild guess that you at least have an idea of what an EMR is. But do you know what your EMR really does? According to this WhatIs article, “An electronic medical record (EMR) is a digital version of the traditional paper-based medical record for an individual. The EMR represents a medical record within a single facility, such as a doctor’s office or a clinic.” And based on that broad definition, your PT EMR should contain everything your practice would document on paper—but in digital form. Some EMRs also include practice management, and they might even integrate with your preferred billing system. (Hint: An ideal EMR should offer reporting capabilities as well as billing integration options).

Practice Management Software

Speaking of practice management: Practice management (PM) software helps employees handle the day-to-day tasks involved in running a practice. These can include managing patient demographic information, scheduling appointments, and tracking business metrics through automated reports. Keep in mind that your EMR and your billing system may offer practice management capabilities as well. In fact, software systems that combine documentation and billing functions with practice management capabilities actually make a lot of sense, because the information that a PM system manages is already contained within the EMR or the billing system. And having all of this information right at your fingertips—in a readable, digestible format—makes any rehab therapy software system even more valuable.

Physical Therapy Billing System

When it comes to billing systems, the typical workflow revolves around an electronic process. That’s because, aside from payers like workers’ comp and auto insurance, claims are typically processed electronically—which requires software to handle the work. This SearchHealthIT article states it best: “Electronic medical billing is the process by which a health care provider electronically submits a bill, or claim, to a health insurance company, or payer, for the rendering of medical services.” Without a billing system (and software) in place, providers wouldn’t be able to submit, track, and process their claims. And in the interest of streamlining your workflow, you should look for a billing system that integrates with your EMR and includes PM functionality.

 

So, there you have it. A great EMR offers integrated practice management and billing systems so you have the ability to better manage your practice. And finally? Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah—where my PTs at?


Why Customer Service is a Physical Therapy EMR Must-Have

When you think about customer service, what comes to mind? Maybe you recall a situation when a business or employee went the extra mile to surprise you with an unexpected level of kindness. Or perhaps you immediately think back to a time when poor customer service—or lack of service altogether—left a bad taste in your mouth. Whether your experience was a positive one—or not—it certainly altered your perception of the business, leaving you either delighted or totally disappointed. And although you might typically think of customer service in the context of shopping, dining out, or going to the doctor, it’s also crucial that you consider this factor as you look for an EMR.

The Significance of Service

Chances are that one of the main reasons you’re shopping for an EMR is to improve your clinic’s workflow: you’re looking for something to make your processes more efficient. That said, one of the best ways you can improve efficiency is by working with an EMR that offers superior—and totally free—customer service and support. Why? Because a great support team can help tremendously throughout your lifetime as a user, helping you improve your workflow, troubleshoot problems, and optimize your use of the EMR. That’s why—when shopping for an EMR—customer service and support should be at the top of your must-have features list. As this HealthIT.gov document states, the “vendor must have reputation for exceptional customer service and support.” When you have a question about the software, you should be able to find an answer—and quickly. Furthermore, the vendor should offer online tools for self-education in tandem with efficient and friendly phone support.

The Freedom of Free Support

Clearly, it’s in your best interest to enlist an EMR that offers customer service. However, I’d strongly urge you not to pursue a software that charges for customer service. Not only could this get expensive, but it also reflects poorly on the vendor you’re evaluating. As this Fresh Desk article explains, “Most businesses end up making the cardinal mistake of assuming they are indispensable.” Remember, if you’re having difficulty with your software’s customer service, you absolutely can look elsewhere. The best EMRs are the ones that offer free customer service for the lifetime of your tenure as a user. Even better: Your “lifetime” should be flexible—with month-to-month contracts instead of long-term commitments.

If you ever have a question about a function or a feature, it’s crucial you have the ability to ask it at any point during your time using the software. You also should be aware that although some EMR vendors might say they offer free support, they might also put in the fine print that you only have access to it for a limited amount of time. If this is the case, once your time is up, you have to bear the financial burden of paying for every call and/or email just so you get the help you need to properly use the system.

The Examination of an EMR

In the words of this Dominion Systems article, “Even the best software companies need a solid backbone of customer service…” That means, even if you love the functionality of a software (even more so than the customer service), if the support is expensive—or doesn’t exist—you’re going to find yourself shopping for another system sooner rather than later. No matter how great the functionality is, you or your staff will need guidance at some point. That being said, the process of shopping for an EMR requires research and careful review of everything from functionality and workflow to customer testimonials and feedback. Conducting a quick Internet search on your vendor should give you some insight into this information. However, in addition to searching the web, you’ll need to ask your potential vendor the following questions to get a pulse on the customer service situation:

  • Does the vendor offer support?
  • If so, is customer support free?
  • Does the vendor have live support reps?
  • Where is the support team located? (If it’s outside of the US, you may find it difficult to get a hold of a representative during typical business hours.)
  • Does the free support have a time or interaction limit?
  • Are there free online educational resources?
  • Is there a community where you can submit product feedback?
  • How does the vendor respond to customer suggestions?

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All of that being said, your EMR vendor should pride itself on offering amazing—and amazingly free—customer service and support. If yours doesn’t, then it might be time to look for a new vendor.


How an EMR Can Work Miracles for Your Billing Process

Physical therapy billing is a process that begins well before your patients even enter your clinic. If your process is efficient, your bottom line likely will grow as a result of your efforts. However, if your process isn’t streamlined, you might find yourself regularly dealing with claim denials and reimbursement delays. And when it comes to process efficiency, there are few factors more influential than your software. I’m talking about your physical therapy EMR. Because with the right EMR in place, your billing process can miraculously transform from a pain-in-your-rear-end into a revenue-boosting machine. Here’s how:

Decreased Errors

Human error is inevitable. Why? Because we’re only, well, human. In general, making a mistake affords you the opportunity to learn a lesson and grow from the experience. But when it comes to coding mistakes, the lessons you learn will cost you—big time—in the form of claim denials. However, there is something you can do. With the right EMR in place—one with top-notch functionality—you can minimize coding errors. According to this study, using an EMR can increase revenue with a “better capture of charges, and decreased billing errors.” The same study goes on to reveal that “computerizing the encounter form could decrease these [billing] errors by 78%.”

Knowing the ins and outs of coding is complicated—even with highly-skilled coders and billers on staff. And as a PT, it’s incredibly challenging to mentally retain all of the information required to accurately code—especially with regulatory requirements that are constantly shifting. Having a system in place with a comprehensive code database is crucial for coding accuracy (say goodbye to cheat sheets). Clinical judgement has always been a crucial part of the coding process, but with ICD-10 right around the corner, the ability to code to the highest level of specificity is even more important. After all, if you don’t select the most specific code possible, you risk claim denials. But with the help of an EMR, coding correctly shouldn’t be rocket science.

Increased Efficiency

Take a few moments to consider the number of hours your staff spends entering charges from super bills into a billing system. What if you could eliminate all of that extra manual data entry? You can. When you work with an EMR vendor that’s integrated with your ideal billing solution, you eliminate all double entry. Your data flows seamlessly from your EMR into your billing software. From here, you can electronically scrub claims and submit them without missing a beat. And that frees up your billing staff to work on resolving other billing issues instead of toiling away at unnecessary data entry. As HealthIT.Gov explains, an EMR reduces the “time and resources needed for manual charge entry resulting in more accurate billing and reduction in lost charges.” Who doesn’t love a reduction in lost charges?

Improved Cash-Flow

The right EMR will help you code efficiently and accurately with the help of comprehensive documentation profiles. The system should prompt you to comply with all compliance requirements as well as provide tools for more accurate coding (e.g., 8-minute rule guidance, modifier options, and a comprehensive ICD-10 tool). What does accuracy mean in terms of cash-flow? Everything. When your documentation supports accurate coding, you have the best chance of getting paid—fast.

An electronic system will help you quickly determine what code is appropriate and accurate for that treatment. What’s more? When you submit a clean claim with accurate codes—the first time—that claim is paid quickly, which means you don’t have to deal with the hassle of going back through attending documents and resubmitting corrected codes. This NCBI study further illustrates this point: “With an EHR system, many billing errors or inaccurate coding may be eliminated, which will potentially increase a provider’s cash flow and enhance revenue.”

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If your practice could use a helping hand with your billing process, it might be time to re-evaluate your EMR. With the right system in place, you can streamline your workflow, increase your revenue, and clean up your claims for better billing results. And it doesn’t take magic—just some help from an EMR system that has your back.


Speak and Spell: Sounding Out Common Healthcare Jargon

Imagine: It’s 1985 and you’re fresh out of batteries. And that—unfortunately—means your spelling mentor (housed in bright red plastic) is out of commission for the night. It looks like you’ll be going to bed early—and without the familiar, robotic voice of Speak & Spell to coax you into dreamland. Okay, so you’re probably wondering what an old-school children’s toy has to do with you—or this post. Well, that’s a great question, and the answer lies in the alphabet soup that makes up the modern glossary of healthcare jargon. As a PT, you’re bombarded with new terms that pop up left and right. In fact, with so many new vocab words and acronyms, you might not feel much different than you did as a child in our hypothetical ’80s drama—ready to call it a night. But luckily for you, the human mind doesn’t require batteries (yet) and you won’t have to go to bed early if you can’t make it through this list. With that being said, let’s get to sounding out a few of the most common healthcare jargon terms:

EHR: Electronic health record

Electronic health records (EHRs) are digital records that focus on the overall health of the patient. These systems typically include the patient records, notes, and other medical information that’s easily accessible across multiple specialties and healthcare organizations.

EMR: Electronic medical record

EHR and EMR might seem like interchangeable terms. However, the two are distinctly different. An electronic medical record (EMR) is a digital version of paper documentation. These records typically contain data that can be easily tracked and accessed within a practice. However, they’re not typically designed to integrate with systems in other settings (e.g., labs and specialty medical offices).

FLR: Functional limitation reporting

Floor? Flower? But, without the letters o, w, and e? Well, not quite. Functional limitation reporting (FLR) doesn’t really sound like any of those words. However, it does sound like The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) will continue looking for new ways to inform the development rehab therapy payment structures—and FLR is part of these attempts. To satisfy FLR requirements, all eligible Medicare providers must report on their Medicare patients’ functional limitations to objectively demonstrate the connection between rehab therapy and patient progress.

HIPAA: The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996

HIPAA sounds a lot like the word hippo. But this law doesn’t spend its time snoozing underwater. Rather, it serves to maintain privacy policy standards in order to protect patients’ sensitive health information per the Privacy Rule. This rule impacts how “covered entities” (e.g., healthcare providers, clearinghouses, health plans, and business associates) handle protected health information (see PHI below).

PHI: Protected health information

“And I’m PHI, PHI falling.” Uh, not quite. Protected health information (PHI) is any health information—in any form—that could individually identify a patient. Typically, PHI refers to patient demographics, but it also includes a variety of other data points that healthcare professionals collect.

PQRS: Physician Quality Reporting System

You might find yourself (or the nearest five-year-old) reciting PQRS as you sing through the alphabet. Or, if you treat Medicare patients, you might find yourself cursing these four letters. PQRS is a CMS system that encourages eligible professionals and group practices to provide measurable data on their quality of care by reporting on a series of measures. As of 2015, practices that do not meet the standards for satisfactory reporting will incur a penalty that will negatively impact reimbursements rates in 2017. Fun, right?

As it turn out, you don’t actually need those glowing green letters to decode the latest healthcare jargon.


How to Implement an EMR in 4 Easy Steps

If your PT clinic currently uses pen and paper for documentation, implementing an electronic medical record (i.e., EMR) in your clinic might seem like a daunting task. All new technology comes with a learning curve, but implementing an EMR system doesn’t have to be difficult. Here are four easy steps to get you up and running:

1. Identify your needs.

As you begin your search for an EMR, you’ll need to examine your clinic’s needs. On the most basic level, your clinic needs an EMR designed with your specific workflow in mind. That means choosing a PT-specific EMR system. The technology should improve your workflow, not make it more difficult. Additionally, the ideal EMR is web-based and comes with month-to-month terms of service. Steer clear of long-term contracts, because if your business changes, your EMR should be able to change with it. For example, you should have the flexibility to add (or remove) users, features, or whatever else your clinic might need. Moral of the story? Figure out your needs, and then choose a system that’s:

  • Web-based,
  • Designed for your speciality, and
  • Flexible enough to accommodate an ever-evolving practice.

2. Investigate technology challenges.

It’s best to base your EMR decision on how the system fits your practice—not on the technology requirements. But if you’re looking at a server-based system, technology requirements are the name of the game. Server-based systems operate using expensive servers that need IT maintenance. That means you have to invest a lot of money in equipment and possibly even bring on new staff members. In addition to the servers, you will need to make sure you have enough computers for all staff members. Furthermore, because a server-based EMR isn’t accessible from any device, it requires downloads and specific software. Web-based solutions, on the other hand, offer everything you need without the technological hassle. A web-based (not web-enabled) EMR is easy to use on any device with Internet capability—sans IT team. Be sure to ask your prospective EMR vendors about technological requirements before you make your buying decision.

3. Boost your Internet speeds.

When you’re looking at implementing a web-based EMR, you’ll want to ensure your Internet speed is fast enough. Additionally, you’ll want to take a look at your modem and router. An old modem and router can slow even the fastest Internet speeds to a snail’s pace. Another Internet speed word of caution: Running web-based applications on many computers and mobile devices can slow you down. For that reason, you’ll want to make sure your Internet connection is at least 10 Mbps (megabits per second) download. Different EMRs require different speeds, but the 10 Mbps rule is a good starting point. Keep in mind that your total Mbps gets divided among all of the devices in use at a particular time—which means the faster your Internet connection, the faster your EMR. If you’re curious about your own Internet speed, check out this speed test (it’s free).

4. Train, train, and train some more.

You may—or may not—include your staff in your EMR buying decisions. But it’s crucial that you do include them in training. For successful EMR implementation in your clinic, you must have your staff on board with the transition. Training is the best way to ensure your employees are comfortable with the new system before you implement it—which in turn boosts their confidence when it comes time to go live. A good EMR vendor will offer high-quality support and training—for free. Exceptional vendors also provide educational blog posts and webinars on a wide variety of PT industry topics as well as on-demand, online training courses.

 

Keep these four tips in mind for a smoother EMR implementation. Have questions? Leave them in the comments section below, and we’ll get you an answer as soon as we can.


4 Tips for Switching EMR Systems

If you’ve made the switch from paper documentation to an EMR system, there’s no doubt you’ve already invested time, money, and hard work into implementing it. If this is the case, but you’ve found yourself trapped by an EMR that doesn’t work for your clinic, it doesn’t mean you have to stick it out forever; in fact, you shouldn’t. As a business owner, it can be difficult to stomach the idea of changing EMRs—especially when you have dozens of therapists, multiple locations, and hundreds of patients to consider. But if your EMR is causing you more pain than it’s worth, then it might be time to make the switch to a system that works better for your clinic. And if you do it right, implementing a new EMR system doesn’t have to be a huge imposition. Just consider these tips for a smoother EMR transition:

1.) Define Workflow

If you’re planning to switch EMR systems, revisiting your business strategy is probably a no-brainer. But something to consider (beyond number crunching) is the crucial step of defining—and possibly redesigning—your clinical workflow. It’s important that your staff understands how the new EMR functionality can help improve everyday operations. HealthIT.Gov further stresses the importance of this process: “Workflow redesign can help your organization:

  • Maximize efficiencies

  • Enhance health care quality and safety

  • Remove chaos from your current workflow

  • Improve care coordination

Simply put, workflow redesign is important because it helps you get the most value from EHR implementation.”

As you define—and redesign—your processes, you’ll discover your current system’s weaknesses. Additionally, you’ll be armed with a concrete list of ways a new system can improve your workflow. As you go through demonstrations for various EMRs, refer to this list and see which vendor checks off most (if not all) of your requirements.  

2.) Develop Leadership

Switching EMRs can be a lengthy process, and having leaders in place to help bear the burden is a solid first step toward success. However, during this transition, it’s crucial that your leaders are not only in place, but also prepared to tackle change. As Glenn Llopis explains in this Forbes article, “If leaders don’t feel comfortable with renewal and reinvention, they will begin to lose their impact and influence quickly. Change is the new normal for leadership success and all leaders must accept this fact.”

If your leaders have trouble communicating during times of change, talk them through challenging situations and offer any leadership training resources you have at your disposal—whether that’s a book or simply a candid conversation. Additionally, be open and honest in your own communication. The last thing you need during a transitional period is a game of EMR telephone. With strong leaders at the helm, your staff has a better chance at sailing smoothly through system-changing tides.

3.) Determine Champions

In addition to ensuring your leaders are prepared to communicate and support your staff through the business changes that lie ahead, you’ll need to designate champions within your clinics. A champion is a knowledgeable staff member who’s tech-savvy, respected amongst his or her colleagues, and totally on board with your plan to change systems. On the subject of technology adoption champions, Harvard Business Review urges employers to “Devise a program to nurture your digital champions, as they are key to transformation success and will most likely be your organization’s future digital leaders.”

Once you’ve chosen your champions, give them decision-making power and define the time commitment you expect from them. As you work through scheduling, keep your timelines realistic and have your clinic leaders carve out dedicated times for champions to be involved in strategic planning. The ultimate goal is to nurture your employees without taking away too much time from what matters most—treating patients.

4.) Dedicate Time

Slow and steady wins the race, right? This old cliché might be cheesy, but it’s spot-on in illustrating the importance of taking your time—especially when it comes to technology adoption. Before you resume your everyday operations with a new system in place, you’ll want dedicated, uninterrupted training time. Also, depending on your staff’s proficiency, it might be beneficial to schedule small breaks between patients to allow therapists more time for documentation—at least initially. This way, the therapists learn how to document on the spot without waiting until the end of the day to complete all their notes.

As you consider different vendors, look for a web-based and compliant EMR that has onsite training. This allows your staff the opportunity to use the software in a realistic setting with the guidance of a knowledgeable representative. In addition to onsite training, you’ll also want to look for a system that offers free customer service and additional on-demand online training (on-demand resources are especially helpful when one of your staff members needs a short refresher or you need to train a new employee). Even better? Find an EMR that offers all of the aforementioned options as well as an online training system that includes tests and quizzes for benchmarking employee progress.

As a business owner, it’s up to you to set the expectation for technology adoption in your clinics. Making the switch to a new EMR is far from impossible, and if you keep the above tips in mind, you’re likely to get through the process headache-free.