Despite the myriad of obstacles thought to impede healthcare technology adoption, it appears that the federal government’s incentive program (or at least its penalties), has done a decent job of moving providers away from paper-based systems. Approximately 70% of primary care physicians nationwide have now adopted some type of electronic health record (EHR) system.
However, primary care physicians are only part of the healthcare community. Because PCP’s often function as the center of a medical team, it makes sense that most first generation EHRs were designed to meet their workflows. This wouldn’t be a problem if it weren’t for the comparative scarcity of EHRs designed for specialty practices.
According to a 2012 census by the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, over 60% of orthopedic surgeons practice in either multi-doctor specialty groups or solo practices. Such a high percentage means orthopedists maintain a greater degree of freedom than specialists employed in hospital settings.
Maintaining previous workflow levels is one of the most difficult undertakings of implementing an EHR, so if specialists have to implement a system designed for a different area of medicine altogether, the results will be less than optimal. A 2012 KlAS study asked physicians from across specialties to rate popular EHR system. Specialty physicians generally gave lower scores than primary care physicians, with orthopedists rating systems at an average of 65% out of 100.
Let’s consider what orthopedists should be looking for in an EHR system:
1. Customizable Templates
Many specialists dislike the complexity of EHR software, which often includes features designed for PCPs who treat a wider range of conditions. Specialists don’t need the same amount of functionality that PCPs do because they don’t deal with the same variety of patients.
The simplest solution lies in customizable templates. By choosing easily customizable software, orthopedists can quickly adapt or develop modules that fit their workflow and treatment patterns.
The huge transition isn’t far away – 7 months and counting to be precise. While ICD-10 is relevant to every physician, orthopedics will receive a greater number of new codes than any other specialty. To prepare, it would be wise to vet any potential EHR partner based on their ICD-10 policies – whether that’s training or the software’s current code system. No one wants to be scrambling to switch their system at the beginning of September.
With customization and ICD-10 in mind, here are three EHR options that work well with orthopedic practices:
One of the only EHR platforms specific to orthopedics, Exscribe prides itself on being the first EHR system with a sole focus on orthopedic practices. Excribe doesn’t offer any products besides their orthopedic EHR, meaning all their charting templates were designed specifically for orthopedic use. This EHR system was designed for physicians wanting to create custom treatment plans for specific medical conditions by setting up prescriptions, patient education, referral letters, and more with just one click.
This Arizona-based EHR platform gives orthopedists the opportunity to choose how much or how little of the TotalMD software platform they need to implement. Featuring a modular design, TotalMD’s platform is relatively affordable and completely customizable, which is especially important for those practicing outside a hospital. TotalMD is also ICD-10 ready.
EHRs designed for smaller practices and hospitals aren’t always the best option for specialists. They may advertise specialty-specific tools, but such features are often compromises between the functionality specialists need, and the more scalable solutions required by hospitals.
So it’s natural for specialists to be skeptical when eClinicalWorks advertises that it works with 40 specialties and sub-specialties. However, eClinicalWorks offers providers the option to customize their software upon implementation, which could go a long way to creating an intuitive EHR for orthopedists. Factor in the powerful practice management tools and built-in patient registries – which are great for population health management – and eClinicalWorks looks like an attractive option for specialists.
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