3 Signs Your EMR Fails to Scale

If you’re ready to start expanding your practice, you’ve probably spent a great deal of time making sure your staff is on board and getting your financials in order. But have you considered the impact your EMR might have on the success or failure of your expansion venture? Here are three signs your EMR isn’t built to support a growing clinic:

1. It makes you pay per patient or per visit.

If your EMR vendor charges you per chart or per visit, it’s impeding the growth of your business—and your bottom line. Under this kind of payment structure, increasing the number of patients your clinic treats means increasing the amount you pay your software vendor each month. Instead of working with a vendor that takes a bite out of each piece of your financial pie, look for one with a payment structure that allows you to pay per user.

2. It limits your number of users, records, or patients.

This one should be pretty obvious. If your EMR caps the number of users, records, or patients you can have, it also caps your clinic’s potential for growth. To keep up with your growth, switch to an EMR that makes it possible—and easy—to add patients, users, records, and clinic locations. Better yet—choose an EMR that offers volume-based discounts to growing practices.

3. It doesn’t give you access to crucial data.

To grow your practice, you need to be able to dig into your business metrics and identify areas where you may be missing out on revenue. Your EMR should provide you with valuable metrics on both your patients and your practice. Look for a multitude of reporting options that allow you to analyze all areas of your business, including:

  • inactive patients
  • patient cancellations and no-shows
  • claim statuses
  • units billed
  • number of patients per therapist
  • types of documents created
  • missed notes
  • referral sources

Additionally, look for an EMR that gives you insight into how regulations like FLR, PQRS, and MPPR are impacting your bottom line.

Behind every great clinic is a great EMR; can you say as much about your system? Make sure your EMR gives you the data space, financial freedom, and business intelligence you need to grow. Don’t settle for an EMR that penalizes you for being successful—or one that doesn’t allow you to be successful, period.


EMR Compliance + Clinic Compliance = Complete HIPAA Compliance

Got EMR? Great! But don’t assume that means you’ve got total compliance. Your EMR company has (or should have) compliance safeguards to ensure that their systems are secure, but your EMR is just one part of the compliance equation. To truly keep your clinic’s protected health information (PHI) secure, you must account for all the variables, like access to your facility, workstations, and devices as well as staff training on proper procedure.

According to the new HIPAA Security Rule, covered entities are obligated to “maintain reasonable and appropriate administrative, technical, and physical safeguards for protecting e-PHI.” If you are a covered entity—i.e, a “health care provider who transmits health information in electronic form in connection with a transaction for which the Secretary of HHS has adopted standards under HIPAA”—then you must:

  • Ensure the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of all PHI they create, receive, maintain, or transmit.
  • Identify and protect against reasonably anticipated threats to the security or integrity of the information.
  • Protect against reasonably anticipated, impermissible uses or disclosures.
  • Ensure workforce compliance.

While you know that ensuring compliance is mandatory, tackling the HIPAA security requirements can seem a bit overwhelming and time-consuming. Where do you start? Well, let’s break it down. A recent article from Healthcare IT News outlines some of steps you should take to keep your clinic compliant, including:

  • Learn the ins and outs of your EMR’s security features, then ensure they are properly configured and enabled.
  • Establish—and routinely evaluate—your policies, procedures, audit trails, and security measures to ensure total compliance with HIPAA requirements.
  • Designate a HIPAA compliance officer at your clinic.
  • Clearly communicate each staff members’ HIPAA compliance responsibilities.
  • Restrict PHI access (through user authentication or encryption) to only those whose individual’s job roles and/or responsibilities require it.
  • Conduct an annual HIPAA security risk analysis.
  • Mitigate and address security risks—like deficient security, lack of administrative and physical controls, and easy access to workstations or systems where you keep PHI.

Relying exclusively on your EMR to keep your PHI secure doesn’t add up to complete clinic compliance. Ultimately, it’s your responsibility to protect all your patient data. To mitigate your risk for HIPAA violations, you must create your own physical, technical, and administrative safeguards.


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.