Are you unhappy with your current EMR? If so, you’re not alone. Every year, thousands of rehab therapy professionals suffer through clunky documentation processes, delayed reimbursements, and manual—which means time- and resource-consuming—updates (cue saccharine Sarah McLachlan song). But it doesn’t have to be like that. For as little as a few dollars a day, you can rescue a rehab therapy professional from the cruelty of antiquated and dysfunctional EMRs.
Okay, so maybe the current EMR market doesn’t quite call for an ASPCA-esque commercial, but for rehab therapy professionals who deal with ill-designed EMRs every day, the struggle is very real. According to a 2013 report from Orem, Utah-based research firm KLAS, private practice providers “are leaving their vendors at an unprecedented rate as EMR solutions fail to meet rising expectations in small physician practices.” The report found that providers are experiencing bad service, product gaps, poor usability, and other limitations that come in like a wrecking ball and destroy clinic productivity, employee satisfaction, and revenue.
If you’re a professional grappling with EMR dissatisfaction, your current system’s résumé probably reads like this:
- designed for physicians
- charges per chart or visit
- lacks free training and support
While those aren’t the only reasons for switching, they are four of the biggest EMR pitfalls—and the cause of many a headache for rehab therapy professional everywhere. If you think you can’t ditch that crappy EMR because it’s too difficult or too expensive to switch, you’re wrong. In fact, staying with an EMR that doesn’t work for you could end up costing you more. Here’s how:
Server-based EMRs are obese clunkers full of ancient technology. In the age of all things mobile, you deserve an EMR you can take with you—anywhere, anytime—but you can’t exactly fit a server in your pocket. Server-based systems take up a large chunk of space—and take a large chunk out of your wallet. If you’ve had your EMR for years, you’ve already written off the cost, so having to shell out for a new system—especially a web-based system, which comes with a low initial investment—shouldn’t be too much of a concern. However, if you’ve recently adopted a server-based EMR, I can understand your hesitation to switch—but think about how much that system is costing you in time and productivity.
If you have a server-based system, the responsibility of securing your patients’ protected health information (PHI) and performing all the upgrades is solely on your shoulders—and that’s no easy task, especially if you aren’t technologically inclined (you may even have to hire IT staff to maintain your system, which makes server-based systems even pricier). Plus, if you miss an update, your system immediately becomes out-of-date, putting you at risk for non-compliance—and considering the speed at which regulations change, that could end up being very costly (I’m talking penalties, fees, rejected claims, and audits). Web-based systems, on the other hand, offer you the security, accessibility, compliance, and data management you need.
You wouldn’t stay in a relationship with a person who didn’t “get you,” right? So why stay with an EMR that doesn’t understand you, your industry, or your workflow? EMRs designed for physicians—not physical therapists—tend to offer workflows that don’t make sense for your needs, forcing you to spend far too much of your precious time trying to mold the system to fit a PT’s workflow. Wouldn’t you rather get back to treating patients instead of working around problems that shouldn’t even be there? If your EMR lacks key features like built-in functional limitation reporting, 8-minute rule monitoring, and therapy cap tracking, you need to switch to one that cares as much about your practice as you do.
If your EMR doesn’t offer you free training and support, you’re going to wind up spending way more than the sticker price to successfully implement and operate your new system (if that’s even possible to begin with). You’re already paying for the software; if you need help along the way, you shouldn’t have to pick up the tab for that, too. Straightforward, flexible, and free phone support and training—from the get-go—should be part of the package, and any EMR company worth its salt will agree with me on that point.
And speaking of unnecessary fees: Does your EMR charge you per chart or per visit? Well, it shouldn’t, because that means you’re penalized for expanding your business. Who wants to be punished for success? (Psst: the answer is no one). When you make the switch, be sure to choose an EMR that charges per user and offers a subscription model. Oh, and one more thing: Beware of “Jack-of-All-Trades” software companies that give away certain aspects of their software (e.g., their documentation or scheduling platforms) in an effort to lock you into their more lucrative components (e.g., revenue cycle management).
If you’re having documentation problems, I feel for you. Because even if you have 99 other problems at your clinic, your EMR shouldn’t be one of them. It’s simply not worth holding onto a system that doesn’t function or follow through on promises. And right now—fewer than seven months away from the mandatory transition to ICD-10—may just be the best time to switch if your current EMR vendor isn’t prepared for the transition.
To help you achieve greatness in practice, you need an EMR that is accountable, efficient, cost-effective, accessible, secure, and most importantly, compliant. Trust me, you’re not going to get that with anything but a truly web-based EMR designed with the PT in mind. Don’t settle for less than what you need—and deserve.