Israel Green-Hopkins, MD, recently wrote a pretty interesting article for KevinMD about an imaginary physician-designed electronic medical record (EMR). He begins by saying that the thought alone “should make us all cringe,” because a clinician-designed product “is doomed [to be] limited [in] scope and lack…forward-thinking trajectory. Yet, the concept of integrating and considering the physician point of view and workflow is critical to successful EMR functionality.” While we definitely don’t agree with his first point—that a physician-designed EMR should make us cringe—we do think there is a lot to be said for a clinician-technologist partnership in the creation of a technological tool for clinicians. It just makes sense: two heads—with two specific, perfectly relevant skill sets—are most definitely better than one. And this is true for any specialty-specific technological tool. For our purposes, let’s consider the benefits of a physical therapy EMR (hopefully, imagining a PT-designed system doesn’t make you cringe, because it makes us practically giddy):

Specialty-Specific Workflow

Green-Hopkins writes: “Healthcare is a rapidly changing field and applying a blanket EMR structure to its core function seems impractical at times. Kenneth Mandl, MD, MPH, and Isaac Kohane, MD, described the paradox well in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2012 when they stated that the challenge is fitting EMRs into a ‘dynamic, state-of-the-art, rapidly evolving information infrastructure.’” All of this supports the need for niche, specialty-specific—one day, interoperable—technological tools tailored to meet the needs of each practicing professional. And who knows your needs better than one of your own? No one. And who can bring technology to life to address them? An expert software developer. (It’s a pretty powerful team.) If your EMR fits you like a glove, you won’t have to worry about developing Band-Aid fixes and workarounds. Instead, you can spend your valuable time improving relationships with your patients, building your business, or enjoying your family.

Relevant Compliance Updates

There’s a lot going on in health care right now—ICD-10, the Affordable Care Act, functional limitation reporting, meaningful use, and PQRS, just to name a few. Don’t you want the person (people) who designed your EMR to know which documentation and compliance regulations apply to you—and which don’t? With a PT at the helm of your software solution, you can be sure you’ll have the best—and most relevant—tools and features before you need them. Take functional limitation reporting, for example: only PTs, OTs, and SLPs must complete this type of reporting, so a generalist EMR most likely won’t take the regulation into account. A physical therapy-specific EMR, on the other hand, focuses on the exact regulations and requirements impacting the PT community—which do not include meaningful use—so its users can properly report functional limitations and get paid.

Better Education and Support

Not only does a PT-designed EMR offer the best software for practicing physical therapists; it also offers the best in education and support. Think about it: If your EMR doesn’t come with the expertise of a real-life PT, neither will your support team, your training team, or your content team. And that’s a pretty important piece of the puzzle.

Sure, you want an amazing EMR. As Green-Hopkins points out, “In its simplest form, the EMR is a communication tool. Clinicians from every discipline and at every level use it to communicate with the patient record and, in many cases, with each other.” And this communication is critical because breakdowns can often lead to potentially dangerous medical mistakes. But in order get the most out of your application, you’ve got to know how to use it.  And in order to succeed in your field, you’ve got to know what’s happening in your industry. What better way to achieve all of the above than to choose a 360-degree PT solution led by a PT?

What do you think about a PT-designed EMR? Tell us your thoughts in the comments section below.