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.

Three Things You Can Do To Make Your EMR Implementation a Success

So, you’re pretty sure, fairly positive, almost certain you’re ready to pull the trigger on a new EMR for your practice. Congratulations! You’re making a wonderful decision for yourself, your staff, and your patients. But, before you take the next step, take a few minutes to read this post. Here are three things you should do to ensure your EMR implementation is a success:

1. Choose the Best EMR

First and foremost, if you’re a physical therapist, you should choose a physical therapy-specific EMR. It sounds like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how many clinicians overspend on a one-size-fits-all solution and then end up wasting precious time on workarounds and Band-Aid fixes because the product simply doesn’t meet their needs. Scrap that. Choose a niche EMR—preferably one developed by a physical therapist—and you’ll have everything you need to do to your job well—like intuitive SOAP notes, 8-minute rule alerts, referral tracking, integrated functional limitation reporting, and a registry-based PQRS program.

Second, make sure you choose a true cloud-based EMR (over a server-based one). That way, you won’t need to hire additional IT staff to get your clinic up and running—or to maintain your system. With cloud-based solutions, you and your team can be fully trained in a matter of hours, and all system updates occur automatically. Talk about easy onboarding. Plus, you can securely access your patient records and scheduling information from anywhere at anytime, which means no more staying at the office late to finish your documentation. And because cloud-based EMRs boast the very best in data security, your important information will remain safe and sound for as long as you need it, even in the event of power outages, natural disasters, or office break-ins.

2. Use the Right In-House Technology

Just as not all EMRs are created equally, not all techy tools are created equally either. Make sure you know what technology is compatible with your new EMR. For example, if you just purchased a whole new fleet of MacBooks for your staff, you’ll probably want to make sure that your new EMR will work well on your new devices—or you might have to trade them in for PCs or choose another EMR. And that goes for more than just laptops. Also consider your internet connection speed, wireless router, scanner, operating system, and hardware. Using the right in-house technology for your EMR will allow you and your staff to benefit from all the speed, tools, and features that the system has to offer. Using anything less would be like putting regular fuel in a Maserati.

3. Get More Than Buy-In From Your Staff

Without support from your team, you’re looking at an uphill battle—even with the very best EMR and the right in-house technology. But this doesn’t necessarily mean you have to take a democratic approach—after all, change often spurs some pretty strong resistance (at least at first). According to Karen Fuller, principal of CSC’s Health Delivery Group, decisions to change technology should take a top-down approach with leaders presenting an unwavering commitment to the shift. That being said, she also recommends that leaders hold “vision sessions,” where everyone comes together to discuss the potential benefits of the change—things like how an EMR “can improve patient safety and care.” This type of group discussion helps everyone achieve a shared vision of the implementation goal.

Dr. Cliff Bleustein, managing director and global head of healthcare consulting for Dell, recommends giving your staff some hefty responsibility: “When you implement an EMR, your clinical and business staff members have to be fully involved and fully accountable for the results, or you’ll end up with a disaster. Mere buy-in from your clinicians and business staff is not enough. They have to do the actual planning and implementing themselves.”

No matter how you choose to go about this process, focus on the positives, allow for open communication, and be patient. The more support you’re able to garner from everyone in your office, the better off everyone will be. Looking for more advice on how to pitch an EMR to your staff (or your clinic director)? Check out this article.

There you have it: Three things you can do to make your EMR implementation a success. Have any questions about what we’ve discussed here? Let us know in the comments section below.