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What is electronic health records software?

EHR software is a system that hospitals and medical practices use to manage and share patient medical records and automate clinical workflows, including billing and claims. EHRs allow healthcare providers to create, update, share, and securely store patient and population information digitally.

Healthcare patients need the ability to access their medical records outside of the doctor’s office, which means health care providers must adopt an electronic health records or electronic medical records (EMR) system. Encouraged by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, EHR software is now the charting standard for the majority of US healthcare facilities. The US EHR market is growing, and many countries around the world are also transitioning to digital records. As of 2021, nearly 4 in 5 office-based physicians (78%) and nearly all non-federal acute care hospitals (96%) adopted a certified EHR.

Our picks for the top EHR-EMR Solutions

Epic: Best comprehensive solution


Pros

  • Intuitive and easy-to-use interface
  • Large number of specialty modules
  • Telemedicine is built into the platform

Cons

  • Has a steep learning curve
  • Implementation fees can be expensive

Patient engagement: Epic places a strong emphasis on patient engagement, offering an extensive patient portal available as a native app for both Android and iOS.

Interoperability: Epic is known for its interoperability capabilities, allowing for easy integration with third-party systems. It supports Meaningful Use Stage 2 standards, enabling records to be shared with any EHR using these standards.

Telehealth options: The software includes numerous telehealth options, supporting video visits, post-surgical follow-ups, and patient monitoring features.

Open API: Epic’s open API facilitates integration with third-party software and apps, enhancing the software’s flexibility and capability to work in diverse healthcare environments.

Cloud-based accessibility: Being cloud-based, Epic EHR is accessible on any device with an internet browser.

Comprehensive charting system: The Epic charting system includes medical templates, patient history, and referrals.

For small practices, the cost of Epic EMR starts around $1,200, excluding training charges. In contrast, for large hospitals, the average cost can reach up to $50,000. The monthly pricing for Epic EMR ranges from $200 to $35,000, depending on the level of customization, features, and the size of the healthcare facility. Additionally, the average cost of Epic software training is around $2,000.

Epic is one of the most well-known vendors of EHR software, exceedingly popular among large healthcare organizations. It provides medical practices with an easy-to-use patient portal, so they can send appointment reminders, prescription information, and any notes on the visit.

Industry-specific modules, including options for cardiology, fertility, and transplants, make it easier for each practice to get the tools and features they need.

Also read: Cerner vs. Epic: Comparing the Two Biggest Electronic Health Software

Cerner: Best for customization


Pros

  • Interoperability with various healthcare systems
  • Detailed charting capabilities
  • Highly customizable

Cons

  • Complexity in navigation
  • Complex setup and training

Clinical documentation: Incorporates narrative, auto text, voice recognition, and speech-to-text support for efficient charting and documentation.

Mobile apps: Offers mobile app functionality for reviewing patient charts, requesting orders, and checking clinical results.

Built-in templates: Provides a variety of prebuilt templates to streamline the documentation process.

Health analytics: Delivers insights for clinical, financial, and population health strategies, aiding in operational improvement.

Patient portal: Features a patient portal for exchanging messages, requesting refills, and accessing clinical information.

Sepsis surveillance: Includes a specialized tool for early detection of patients at risk of sepsis.

The pricing starts at approximately $25 per user each month for the base EMR subscription. This base subscription provides access to core features, with additional features available for an extra charge. The more comprehensive plan known as Ambulatory EMR begins at around $250 monthly. This plan includes patient scheduling, clinical documentation, medication management, plus analytics and reporting facilities for tracking performance. However, plans are customizable based on needs.

Cerner is another big-name vendor in the EHR space, with high use among ambulatory care and clinical practices. Oracle and Cerner recently reached a purchase agreement, placing Cerner under the Oracle umbrella by the end of 2022. As a result, Cerner has native integrations to other Oracle products.

Offering clinical solutions for a variety of specialties, the platform streamlines patient accounting and administrative workflows.

CareCloud: Best for ease of use


Pros

  • Documentation can be customized for each discipline
  • Easy-to-use, cloud-based platform
  • Drag-and-drop scheduling options

Cons

  • Some users complain about the system’s reliability
  • Customer support seems to be unhelpful and difficult to reach

Cloud-based solution: CareCloud offers a cloud-based solution for medical billing, reducing the IT burden and providing around-the-clock data access.

Claims submission: The system ensures that all claims are submitted at their highest possible value.

Eligibility verification: CareCloud streamlines the process of verifying patients’ insurance eligibility.

Claim tracking and correction: It features real-time tracking of submitted claims and allows quick editing and resubmission of denials.

Denial alerts: The software includes proactive denial alerts to reduce the claim denial rate and facilitate timely resubmissions.

Comprehensive training: CareCloud provides extensive training for users to fully leverage the software’s capabilities in reducing account receivable time and minimizing denial rates.

Pricing for CareCloud EHR varies based on the specific services and modules chosen, but it typically starts at $99 per user per month. However, this can increase depending on the scale and specific requirements of the practice. For a more comprehensive package that includes practice management and EMR modules, the price begins at around $628 per month, indicating that the cost may increase significantly for more extensive service combinations

CareCloud EHR provides flexible charting options and configurable templates, allowing physicians to customize their system to the needs of their practice. Rich patient summaries make it easy for physicians to get critical patient info at a glance, while real-time intelligence helps improve decisions by highlighting crucial variables like drug interactions.

In addition to EHR, CareCloud also offers practice management, telehealth, and more to give practices a full medical software suite.

Athenahealth: Best for large enterprises


Pros

  • Easy scheduling options
  • Cloud hosting makes it cheaper and logistically easier to use
  • Large number of integrations available via the marketplace

Cons

  • Several users complain about poor and unresponsive customer service
  • Ongoing billing services are expensive

Integrated practice management: Athenahealth combines electronic health records with practice management, streamlining administrative tasks and patient care coordination.

Revenue cycle management: The system offers comprehensive revenue cycle management to optimize financial performance and streamline billing processes.

Patient engagement tools: Athenahealth provides tools for patient engagement, including a patient portal, appointment reminders, and communication options.

Telehealth capabilities: It supports telehealth services, enabling virtual care and consultations with patients remotely.

Data analytics and reporting: Athenahealth offers robust data analytics and reporting features, aiding in performance tracking and decision-making.

Interoperability and network connectivity: The platform facilitates interoperability and connectivity with other healthcare systems and providers, enhancing information sharing and collaboration.

Pricing starts at $140 per user, per month. This basic license rate can be augmented depending on additional services such as billing and order transmission, which have their own costs. Specifically, Athenahealth also charges 4-7% of the total practice revenue for its billing services. The price can vary depending on additional needs like data migration, which typically falls between $500 and $10,000.

Athenahealth EHR offers intuitive workflows and real-time insights to improve clinical efficiency and care coordination. A member of the CommonWell Health Alliance, Athenahealth makes it easy to share patient records with other physicians and specialists.

The mobile app is also fully integrated with the EHR system, so doctors don’t have to be at a workstation to make updates.

eClinicalWorks


Pros

  • Easy to navigate and use
  • Customizable for the practice’s needs
  • Large number of features simplifies a variety of workflows

Cons

  • The system can sometimes freeze, causing delays
  • Several users complain about poor customer service

Comprehensive Electronic Health Records (EHR): eClinicalWorks provides a robust EHR system that facilitates efficient patient record management and clinical workflows.

Practice management solutions: It offers integrated practice management tools that streamline administrative tasks, such as scheduling and billing.

Patient engagement and portal: eClinicalWorks includes a patient portal, enhancing communication between patients and providers and enabling easy access to health information.

Telehealth services: The platform supports telehealth capabilities, allowing for remote patient consultations and virtual care.

Revenue cycle management: eClinicalWorks offers revenue cycle management features to optimize financial operations and improve billing processes.

Healthcare analytics and reporting: The system provides advanced analytics and reporting tools to aid in data-driven decision-making and performance tracking.

EHR only: $499 per user, per month.

EHR with practice management: $599 per month, per provider.

eClinicalWorks EHR is a cloud-based platform, complete with a health information search engine to connect patient records from different practices and give a timeline view of the patient’s health history. Interoperability is possible through the CommonWell Health Alliance and Carequality frameworks.

Physicians also get access to a virtual assistant that lets them book appointments, compare notes, and view an account balance without leaving their workflow.

Veradigm


Pros

  • Easy-to-use and accessible platform
  • Prescriptions are easy to send to pharmacies
  • Improves communication about patients

Cons

  • Software can have slow loading times
  • Practices have to pay for tech support packages


Integrated Electronic Health Records (EHR)
: Veradigm EHR offers a comprehensive electronic health record system, streamlining patient data management and clinical documentation.

Practice management solutions: It includes practice management tools to optimize administrative processes like appointment scheduling, billing, and reporting.

Patient engagement and communication: Veradigm EHR features a patient portal that facilitates effective communication between patients and healthcare providers, enhancing patient involvement in their care.

Clinical decision support: The platform provides clinical decision support tools to aid healthcare providers in making informed treatment decisions based on patient data and best practices.

Data analytics and reporting: Veradigm EHR offers robust data analytics and reporting capabilities, enabling healthcare providers to track performance metrics and make data-driven decisions.

Interoperability: The system supports interoperability, allowing seamless data exchange with other healthcare systems and enhancing collaboration across different care settings.

ePrescribe Deluxe: $18 per month. Focuses on prescription management features.

ePrescribe Delux with EPCS: $33 per month. Includes Electronic Prescribing of Controlled Substances (EPCS).

Practice Fusion EHR: $149 per month. Most comprehensive plan.

Veradigm, formerly known as Allscripts, offers several different EHR products, depending on the type of facility it is serving. The company’s comprehensive suite of tools ranges from electronic health records to patient engagement platforms. In addition, Veradigm leverages AI to provide advanced analytics, allowing for better management and understanding of patient needs.

NextGen Healthcare: Best for integrated financial management solutions


Pros

  • US-based support team
  • Easy to use and offers responsive support
  • Streamlines scheduling workflows

Cons

  • Customization can introduce glitches
  • Attachment sizes are limited to 5MB

Patient portal and engagement: NextGen offers a patient portal that facilitates patient-provider communication, appointment scheduling, and access to health records.

Telehealth capabilities: The platform supports telehealth services, allowing for remote patient consultations and care delivery.

Revenue cycle management: NextGen Healthcare includes revenue cycle management tools to optimize billing processes and financial performance.

Analytics and reporting: It offers advanced analytics and reporting capabilities for performance tracking and data-driven decision-making in healthcare practices.

The pricing for these plans ranges from $299 to $549 per provider per month.

NextGen Office: This plan is tailored for small practices.

NextGen Enterprise EHR: Aimed at large practices, offering comprehensive EHR services.

NextGen Enterprise PM: Also for large practices, focusing on practice management.

NextGen Healthcare EHR automates reporting to meet compliance requirements and improve the quality of patient care. It’s scalable and customizable to meet the needs of each practice, and patients get access to 24/7 care to increase engagement.

Thanks to insights at the point of care, physicians can also improve population health and provide better care and financial outcomes for their patients.

Find your new EHR-EMR software

What is the difference between EHR and EMR?

Electronic medical record (EMR) systems are the predecessors to modern EHRs. Many people use the two terms interchangeably, but they are not the same. EMR solutions essentially store digital versions of paper patient charts, while EHR platforms significantly expand upon the medical data capabilities offered by electronic medical records.

EMR systems store information on patients at hospitals and clinics, but that information never leaves the location where it was originally compiled. This means a new patient record must be created any time a patient goes to a different hospital, clinic, mental health provider, or another medical care facility.

EHRs, on the other hand, allow providers to share patient information with other hospitals, clinics, labs, and specialists as necessary. This allows a patient’s medical history to follow them across healthcare facilities, and it helps health care providers deliver better care when seeing new patients. By sharing this personal health record between facilities, doctors have access to more accurate and up to date information.

EHRs also include features for population health management, which can help inform doctors about health trends in their local area.

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Types of Electronic Health Records Systems

There are several different types of EHR systems, each with its own set of benefits and drawbacks.

  • Physician-hosted system: Hosted on a physician’s own servers and requires the physician to purchase all necessary hardware and software, as well as handling their own maintenance and security.
  • Subsidized remote system: Smaller clinics might form relationships with hospitals or medical networks to cover some of the costs of an EHR system. The system will then be hosted at the network’s or hospital’s headquarters, and physicians will be able to access it remotely.
  • Dedicated remote system: The EHR vendor stores all of the practice’s data on its servers and provides remote access. Physicians lose any control over the data storage methods and locations, but aren’t responsible for maintenance.
  • Cloud remote system: EHR vendors store their clients’ data in the cloud. Physicians can easily access their data through the vendor’s website, and they aren’t responsible for maintenance.

Benefits of EHR software

EHR systems should improve workflows for physicians and administrative staff, while also giving patients better access to their data. Healthcare organizations looking for EHR software should prioritize the following features.

Easy scheduling

Many EHR tools offer drag-and-drop schedule makers, so admins can easily add new appointments and quickly make changes. It also updates in real-time, so patients or receptionists can’t double-book physicians. Once the appointment is on the books, the EHR system can also send reminders to patients to reduce no-shows.

Shareable information

Interoperability is the key differentiator between EHR and EMR systems. EHR tools should be able to send charts and other records to specialists, hospitals, and other healthcare providers working with their patients to improve the quality of care.

Doctors need to know how each medication they prescribe will interact with what the patient is already taking, and sharing records is the best way to ensure they have all of this necessary information.

Digital charts

Paper charts are outdated, can be easily lost or destroyed, and may be hard to read depending on the doctor’s handwriting. EHR systems should include a digital charting system with pre-built and customizable templates to cater to the practice’s specialty.

Digital charts are easy to access, and physicians can update them as needed without adding pages of notes for each new visit.

Patient portals

A patient portal allows patients to access their electronic medical records and interact with their healthcare providers online. It is usually a standalone application that integrates into the existing site of a provider, but EHRs can also include modules for patient portals.

Some patient portals allow patients to register for office visits and complete check-ups online. Patients can also request prescription refills, order eyeglasses and contact lenses, access medical records, pay bills, and review lab results without ever leaving their homes.

Also read: Optimizing Your Patient Portal for Maximum Engagement

More accurate prescriptions

Thanks to the clinical decision support (CDS) systems found in EHR software, physicians can improve the accuracy of their prescriptions, quickly ruling out any options that will trigger an allergic reaction or negatively interact with other medications.

Improved care

When doctors all have access to the same information via their EHR system, they can provide better care to their patients. They’ll know which tests have already been run, what medication their patient is currently taking, and any past diagnoses that could inform future care. EHR systems also reduce human error and remove some of the burden from patients.

Finding the best EHR software for your organization

While EHR software has become the standard for healthcare organizations, it can be difficult to implement and manage, and it may introduce some security risks.

Implementation

EHR systems are fairly expensive. Typically, the more robust they are, the longer they take to implement. Each person who is going to use the system will need to be trained on it, and organizations will need to connect it to the other software they use, like billing or practice management software. Cloud-based systems are typically easier to implement, but they still require extensive training.

Privacy and security

Digitally storing medical records can lead to privacy and security risks, as digital archives can be hacked. The good news is, most EHR systems include robust security measures, including identity and access management (IAM) and encryption.

Healthcare organizations also need to have their own security measures in place and train their employees on how to keep data secure and private. In order for it to be effective, medical professionals have to update their EHR software regularly. Digital charts are not useful if they don’t contain the most up-to-date information, and it’s very difficult to assess the effectiveness of treatments if doctors aren’t noting their patient’s progress.

There are many electronic health records systems on the market, and finding the right one depends on the size of your practice, your medical discipline, and the features you need. Small organizations will likely prefer cloud-based systems, while major hospital networks probably have the overhead needed to host their own EHR tool.

Additionally, not every EHR system includes modules for every specialty, so you’ll need to check that a platform has what you need before signing a contract.

Read next: Choosing An EHR: A Comparison Of The Best Electronic Health Records Software

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