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.


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?

10 Warning Signs Your Clinic Needs EMR Now

You’ve been toying with the idea of an EMR for a while now, and maybe you’re still trying to figure out if making the transition is really the right decision for your clinic. To help, we’ve put together this list of ten warning signs that your clinic needs an EMR now:

  1. You’re drowning in paper.
  2. Are you swimming in a quagmire of paper chart quicksand? Is your office overflowing with rows upon rows of filing cabinets all jam-packed with loose, dog-eared, and illegible handwritten notes? If you were audited today, would you be able to easily find the notes you made to justify that your services were medically necessary on Sally Joe back in ‘06? If you answered no to any of these questions, you’re officially drowning in paper. Cut the clutter. Free your space. Demand organization. An EMR will allow you to electronically document, store, and access all of your precious patient information safely and securely. This way, everything you need will be at the tips of your fingers for years to come. And the best part? It will always be legible.

  3. You’re losing money on missed appointments and cancellations.
  4. Take a moment to think about how much each missed appointment and cancellation costs your clinic. Now think about how quickly that adds up! With an EMR, you’ll have access to electronic scheduling tools integrated with your documentation, so scheduling will be a breeze. Then, just a few days before your patient’s next scheduled appointment, you’ll be able to send an email, text, or phone call reminder automatically. Simply reminding patients that they have an appointment scheduled can significantly reduce no shows. And just one recouped patient visit per month could cover the cost of your EMR.

  5. You’re spending too many late nights finishing your notes.
  6. You got into therapy to help people. But instead, you’re spending most of your days—and nights—completing cumbersome paper documentation. Where’s the fun in that? And don’t forget about the dreaded writer’s cramp! Get back to what really matters—your patients—and ditch the pen and paper. With an EMR, you’ll have all your SOAP notes perfectly organized to fit your workflow. And, with just a few simple clicks, you can expand or collapse sections, create custom evaluation profiles, and finalize your notes. Plus, with an EMR, you can access your documentation safely and securely from any web-enabled device. So, if you choose to document outside of the office, you can—and you’ll still be fully HIPAA compliant. Talk about freedom.

  7. You’re tracking important clinic data manually—or not at all.
  8. How many patients are you seeing on average each day? What about the other therapists in your clinic? Do you know how many patients simply dropped off your radar? Or how close your Medicare patients are to hitting the therapy cap? If you can’t answer these questions without pulling out your TI-89, you’re not totally in the know about what’s going on in your clinic—and that can be a serious issue. Stay current on all things relevant to your clinic with an EMR’s integrated reporting functionality. You see, an EMR uses the data you’re already providing during documentation and scheduling to generate all the relevant reports you could ever want, including how productive each staff member is; how many inactive patients you should contact to bring back to therapy; and how close each Medicare patient is to reaching the therapy cap. This built-in reporting functionality will also alert you if one of your patient records is missing important information or if you forgot to complete a piece of required documentation.

  9. You’re spending a bundle on dictation services.
  10. One of the largest expenses many clinics face is the cost of sending out dictation for transcription. The good news is that it doesn’t have to be. Adopt EMR, and you can use a free dictation application—Dragon, for example—to complete any free-form section of your notes. It’s the best of both worlds—for those who feel most comfortable dictating and for those who prefer typing. Just think of what you could do to improve your clinic with the money you used to spend on dictation!

  11. You’re overwhelmed by the recent changes in documentation regulations.
  12. We don’t blame you. Between PQRS, the therapy cap, MPPR, and functional limitation reporting, there’s a whole lot to know if you’re treating Medicare beneficiaries and you want to get paid. Don’t worry, though. With an EMR, compliance is easy because you won’t have to do any of the heavy lifting. Just make a few more selections during your normal documentation, and the system will compile—and often submit—all that’s required to CMS. Plus, the best EMRs also offer a ton of great educational content so that you have all the information you need to feel confident about existing and upcoming requirements.

  13. You’re pretty sure you misplaced at least one patient record in the last seven years.
  14. It’s bound to happen—especially if you’re lugging stacks of paper charts to and from the office—but it’s definitely not okay. A HIPAA breach can cost you and your clinic big time—not to mention ruin the trusted patient-provider relationship. So what’s the best way to avoid a breach? Stop paper charting and start using an EMR—specifically, one that offers unique password protected entry and stores your patient’s protected health information safely and securely in the cloud.

  15. You’re not attracting top-tier talent.
  16. You’re looking to hire—and not just anybody. You want to bring on the best and brightest from the new generation of rehab therapists. But for some reason they don’t seem interested in working for you. Maybe that’s because this new generation is one of the digital age, and chances are they’ve spent at least one graduate-level course learning to document with EMR. The idea of going back to paper charting probably feels like going back to the days before smartphones and the Internet—not a happy thought. Plus, many appreciate paperless clinics—for going digital and green. Don’t resist change; embrace it. It will be good for attracting talent and patients alike.

  17. You’re missing out on opportunities to increase referrals.
  18. Do you know who your top referrers are? What about the ones who maybe need a reminder about your awesome services? If not, you’re missing out on generating a ton of new business. With an EMR, you’ll be able to track referring physicians so you can see who’s doing a fantastic job of promoting your clinic and who needs a little more attention. Plus, with an EMR, you’ll be able to brand your notes with your clinic’s logo so anything you send to a referring physician will demonstrate your professionalism and keep you top of mind. It’s marketing built right in.

  19. You’re falling behind your competitors.
  20. The leading EMR on the market right now has more than 21,000 customers and 5,000 therapy clinics. If you’re not already an EMR user, you’re falling behind your competitors who are. After all, the right EMR helps therapists save time and money, allowing them to be better in business. So don’t let your competitors pass you by.

    If any of these warning signs feel a bit too familiar, it’s time to do more than just toy with the idea of an EMR; it’s time to start demoing, today.