Today’s healthcare ecosystem has multiple challenges and requires seamless technological aid to simplify the processes. However, most providers need integrated healthcare solutions to keep their applications and processes connected. Besides, Practice Management solutions are the answer to the providers’ goals and challenges.
A practice management system is an application that enables providers to leverage different operations like medical billing, appointment scheduling, and other administrative tasks. It streamlines the workflow that results in better efficiency and care. But practice management systems are more beneficial if integrated with Electronic Health Records.
Electronic health records (EHR) are digital formats of a patient’s chart. They contain all the information about a patient’s health. This includes medical history, allergies, immunizations, previous treatments, medication history, past diagnoses, history of substance abuse (if any), and so forth. In other words, an EHR offers a complete picture of a person’s health, enabling doctors to make informed treatment decisions. Moreover, EHRs can be transmitted from one clinic or hospital to another, enabling clinicians from multiple organizations to collaborate on patient care.
Integrating software for practice management in EHR helps providers achieve high productivity, better patient engagement, and care. This is because providers would be able to access important medical information while also monitoring the everyday operations of their practice. Let’s explore all the aspects surrounding the integration of the two medical platforms and how this impacts healthcare.
What Does Integrating an EHR Solution with Practice Management Software Accomplish?
Integrating a platform for practice management in EHR facilitates the seamless exchange of patient data among medical software systems. The solution for billing and coding can pull up patient data to capture the clinical visit and prepare claims. Additionally, the appointment scheduling software within the practice management system can use data drawn from the EHR software solution to verify patients’ health plans and coverage. This, in addition to digital intake forms before appointments, eases the administrative burden surrounding clinical care.
Administrative workflows are an undeniable aspect of medical organizations. In a country with a healthcare system as complex as that of the United States, easing up office activities goes a long way in optimizing the overall efficiency of the medical organization. The best part about this is that both the clinical and non-clinical staff can devote more time to patients. This helps patients by reducing their waiting time while also improving the quality of care in the long run. In addition, integrating software for practice management in EHR also enables clinics and practices to see more patients. This invariably improves revenues.
EHR solutions are central pillars for any health system, whether at hospitals or small practices. In the latter case, software for practice management with an EHR will streamline many clinical and non-clinical activities through one consolidated platform. This integration will also allow the patients’ records to be transferred from one practice to another in case of referrals. It would enable the physician to view patients’ test results and radiology reports with a few clicks.
So, integrating medical practice management with EHR software improves patients’ overall experience and benefits providers. It is a win-win for all stakeholders involved.
Here are some of the major benefits of Practice Management in EHR.
Improved Patient Care
Integrating practice management software and EHR majorly helps providers with efficient patient care. Streamlined workflow and reduced administrative stress among physicians and nurses redirect their focus to patients’ care. So, practice management in EHR boosts patient care and their experiences.
Health providers are more relaxed with an EHR integrated practice management, as daily operations and tasks are all streamlined. It helps the staff to attend to patients and resolve their issues timely. Moreover, automated workflows also reduce errors and inefficient service. That means successful practice management in EHR results from quality healthcare automation solutions/services.
Privacy and Security
Practice Management and EHR solutions assure security and privacy to patient medical records and other critical data. It improves the medical records management system for the providers. Perhaps the best advantage of integrating practice management software and EHR is that patients’ Protected Health Information (PHI) can only be accessed by authorized personnel. Being a digital solution, the EHR software has access restrictions, audit trails, and other security measures. These factors prevent the loss or corruption of patients’ confidential health information.
Better Patient Engagement
Todays’ healthcare providers are shifting towards value-based care. And in the value-based care model, patient engagement and experience matter the most. Integrating practice management solutions and EHR software helps providers focus more on patient care than administrative tasks; it even boosts their patient engagement systems.
When healthcare providers deploy integrated EHR for practice management, there is a gradual increase in their ROI. The EHR for practice management reduces administrative errors, paper-based documentation, retains staff, and assures flexibility alongside quality care. All these directly impact providers’ overall ROI.
Advanced practice management in EHR knows patients’ needs beyond the hospital, acknowledges staff training, and ensures the best health plan for patients. This even facilitates population health management solutions. Moreover, the integrated EHR simplifies electronic data exchange to improve care quality. It provides meaningful insights to caregivers extracted from the EHR.
Roadblocks in Integrating EHR in Practice Management Systems
Despite advances in practice management software and EHR, healthcare providers often face roadblocks integrating EHR in practice management systems. Successful integration is challenging for providers due to technical and financial issues. Some of these challenges are-
1. Outdated Software
If your practice management software is quite old or is challenging to update, then it’s time you need to change it. Outdated software applications are the major roadblock in integrating practice management software and EHR. Moreover, customized EHR practice management systems are a smarter choice, as it enables providers to update and resolve issues whenever required.
2. Lack of Technical Ability
Not all healthcare workforces have sound technical knowledge. This is a problem that several providers experience when handling medical practice management software integrated with HER. So, healthcare organizations must train and educate their staff on practice management systems integrated with EHR. Moreover, when the staff is trained to use such advanced software applications, it helps them become more productive.
3. Financial Constraints
One of the most common barriers in integrating EHR into practice management solutions is the rising cost. Integrating practice management in EHR is a complex process and requires adequate resources. However, providers can sketch out a budgeting plan to integrate EHR into the practice management system. After all, in the long run, integrated practice management systems will help provider boost their ROI.
4. Adapting to New Workflows
Integrating practice management in EHR will certainly bring about changes in day-to-day working. It will take time for everyone on staff to get used to operating the new platform and abandoning their old way of working. Additionally, in the case of smaller practices, introducing a digital platform like EHR in practice management software will surely result in downsizing as some manual workflows will be replaced with digital ones. Letting go of some long-time staffers might bring in additional difficulties. However, the positive side is a drastic improvement in overall efficiency and productivity and a reduction in operating overhead.
5. Data Migration
For small practices, moving from a pen and paper-based system to a digital platform integrated with electronic medical records software involves data migration. Although it would be worth all the time and money spent, providers at small practices are likely to avoid it. Migrating all the patients’ data from physical papers to a digital platform would take weeks and require planning and training. Additionally, this whole exercise is highly vulnerable to data loss, not to mention the time, money, and energy spent not caring for patients. This is a major barrier to integrating an EHR with a practice management system.
6. Privacy and Compliance Issues
The current healthcare system ensures that providers use software with HIPAA compliance only. Complying with the different regulatory institutions offer privacy and security to the information embedded in that specific application. Moreover, electronic medical records and practice management systems contain critical data related to patients and their treatments. And increasing technological advancements make these applications more prone to data threats. So, opting for practice management HIPAA compliant solutions integrated with clinical EHR is a smart move.
EHR Software Vs. Practice Management
A practice management solution is an aggregated digital platform used to handle a medical practice’s day-to-day activities. These include managing appointments, verifying patients’ health plans, medical billing, etc. On the other hand, EHR solutions are digital formats of a patient’s paper chart. EHRs can be transferred to other medical facilities and help multiple providers collaborate.
Let’s explore some factors in which the operation of practice management and EHR solution differ –
The data on practice management software is confined to the clinic or practice where the software platform is implemented. A digital solution for practice management is to streamline everyday operations and have an overview of happenings. On the other hand, EHR software enables organizations to share data with others to boost physician collaboration and facilitate better treatment of diseases.
Regarding software solutions, receptionists, office managers, front desk employees, and other admin staff use medical practice management software. But when it comes to EHR solutions, it is only the medical staff, namely the doctors, nurses, and caregivers, who are the main users. A practice management solution streamlines administrative activities at a clinic, but an EHR allows the medical staff to use the medical data effectively. In other words, practice management in EHR facilitates faster verification of health plans and patient intake and generally reduces patient waiting time.
While EHR and practice management systems use software automation solutions, the actual usage differs significantly. A practice management system automates appointments and physician and patient management tasks. On the other hand, automation with an EHR enables providers to organize the data and highlight patterns in it to identify diseases or have a reliable prognosis. Additionally, some data-driven analytics can help physicians predict diseases in certain patients or find who might be at higher risk.
How To Integrate EHR in Practice Management System
Healthcare providers facing the challenges mentioned above in integrating EHR in practice management systems must focus on their needs and resources. If you’re planning to integrate EHR into your existing practice management system or opting for a new one, here are a few things to consider-
In healthcare management, the integration of practice management systems and EHR incurs high-end expenses. Whether the EHR is integrated with existing practice management or you want customized software, the budgeting process is essential to avoid financial constraints later. Moreover, budgeting also helps providers to keep track of other expenses on additional resources like staff training. So, a complete plan that marks the process of integration is essential to control expenses too.
2. Research and Demo
Without proper knowledge on the practice management EHR implementation, providers might face additional barriers. Experts point out that the solution selection strategy can help providers choose how to integrate EHR in the practice management system. According to this strategy, providers must do intensive research about the integrated software. Besides, opting for customized practice management and EHR integrated healthcare solutions benefits providers in varied ways. It costs less in the long run and even improves other solutions like medical informatics.
Further, if you’re opting for customized solutions, it’s beneficial to get a cloud-based EHR. Cloud computing in healthcare enables providers to store, streamline and protect their EHR data. So, providers must try cloud-based EHR integrated into the practice management system to maximize their benefit.
3. Same Vendor, More Money
Providers with practice management systems looking to integrate EHR experiences problem when different vendors develop both software. It affects the workflow processes, including healthcare interoperability or data sharing. Hence, it’s much better to go for the same vendor, as providers can customize the software per their needs. Moreover, the same vendor means less spending. And reduced expenditure on the integrated practice management in EHR means better returns.
4. Check Interoperability and Compliance
Practice Management and EHR solutions, when integrated, offer seamless interoperability. Interoperability is the current growing trend among providers. It helps in seamless data transfer between systems. Further, the interoperable system facilitates health analytics solutions to collect meaningful data for better patient care. So, the providers must double-check the interoperability feature after EHR integration in practice management systems. Also, healthcare providers must reconfirm regulatory compliances to assure quality service to their patients.
Selecting a Company To Carry Out the Integration Process
Integrating two medical software platforms means connecting them in a way that they will be able to exchange data seamlessly. When two or more healthcare software solutions can do this successfully, the operation of both solutions and other workflows surrounding them gets streamlined. However, integrating two medical solutions is a large feat and requires careful planning. We can consider two scenarios when integrating an EHR with a practice management solution.
The Same Company developed both Solutions
In this instance, both software platforms would be purchased from the same vendor. The company would know the programming languages, protocols, data formats, and other standards. As a result, the EHR and the practice management solution are likely compatible. The company that developed them can design APIs that would seamlessly bridge the two software platforms without any compatibility issues stemming from varying languages or data formats.
Different Companies developed both Solutions
Integrating an EHR with a practice management solution can get tricky when different vendors have developed both software platforms. In this instance, the programming languages, data formats, and other factors are likely different, posing difficulties in integrating the two platforms.
A company to integrate them would need to possess some years of experience building medical software. In other words, it would have to have developed healthcare software, implemented them, and provided support continuously for a steady clientele. For a provider operating a clinic or a private practice, the company’s track record plays a major part in the integration process. It would be helpful if such physicians could visit another practice or clinic to see the company’s work before deciding.
A company with experience building medical software would be in a suitable position to offer advice and design relevant APIs for integration. The smooth functioning of the practice would depend on the integration, so this step is crucial for the seamless working of software for practice management in EHR. Once the two platforms have been integrated, it is vital to carry out testing against realistic scenarios to see if everything functions as intended. The working of the two solutions would impact clinical administrations and patient care.
The integration of practice management in EHR offers some great benefits to healthcare providers. It empowers them to achieve their business and care delivery goals, improve productivity and revenue. However, providers must also acknowledge the right way to integrate EHR and practice management software. Creating a structured plan, researching, and customizing solutions as per providers’ needs help them facilitate other clinical and non-clinical operations. Besides, providers must also consider additional measures for the successful integration of practice management and EHR solutions. These additional measures include minimizing data silos, data acquisition, data cleaning, enhancing data quality, and more. So, healthcare providers aiming to integrate EHR and practice management systems successfully must plan rightly before investing in any customized solutions.
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Written by Riken Shah linkedin
Riken's work motto is to help healthcare providers use technological advancements to make healthcare easily accessible to all stakeholders, from providers to patients. Under his leadership and guidance, OSP Labs has successfully developed over 600 customized software solutions for 200+ healthcare clients across continents.