Find the Best EHR EMR Software (185 Vendors)
Get free recommendations and price quotes. Answer below.
Do you currently use EHR-EMR software?
Compare EHR-EMR Solutions Side by Side
Choose from our list of vendors below
Table of contents
- What is EHR software?
- State of electronic medical record software adoption
- Common electronic health records software tools
- Considerations when buying or switching EHRs
- Interoperability and participation in health information exchanges
- Top EHR-EMR vendors
- Choosing an EHR-EMR software system
- What to read next
What is EHR software?
Electronic health record (EHR) software acts as a digital replacement for paper medical charting systems. EHR systems allow healthcare providers to create, update, share, and securely store patient and population health information digitally. As required by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, the majority of US healthcare providers now use EHRs over paper records.
Naturally, this means the US EHR market is growing, but many countries around the world are also transitioning to digital records. According to Allied Market Research, the EHR software market will grow at an annual compound growth rate (CAGR) of five percent between 2017 and 2023. The market will be worth over $33 million by 2023.
Is there a difference between an EHR and an EMR?
Electronic medical record (EMR) systems are the predecessors to modern EHR systems. Many people use the two terms interchangeably, but they are not the same. EMR solutions essentially store digital versions of paper charts. EHR solutions do this too, but they significantly expand upon the capabilities offered by EMRs.
Also read: EHR vs. EMR: Is There Any Difference?
EMR systems store information on patients at hospitals and clinics, but that information never leaves the location where it was originally compiled and entered. This means a new patient record must be created any time a patient goes to a different hospital, clinic, or other medical care provider.
EHRs, on the other hand, allow healthcare providers to share patient information with other hospitals, clinics, labs, and specialists as necessary. This allows a patient’s medical information to follow them, and it helps healthcare providers deliver better care when seeing new patients. EHRs also include features for population health management.
State of electronic medical record software adoption
According to The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, 96 percent of all US hospitals use a certified EHR as of 2017. This comes a decade after the implementation of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which included the HITECH Act of 2009.
The HITECH Act was created to spur the adoption of electronic health records and healthcare IT in general. The reasons for this are tied to lowering the price difference between the US healthcare system and its peers in other developed countries.
The US healthcare system now eats up 17.9 percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP), or an estimated $3.5 trillion. This is compared to the two biggest spenders in the European Union (EU)—France and Germany—who spent 11.5 and 11.1 percent of their respective GDP on healthcare in 2016. In terms of healthcare spending per capita, the average US person spent $10,224 in 2017 compared to $4,717 per person in Japan and $4,246 per person in the United Kingdom.
While these statistics may not be new to the healthcare community, they’re still at the forefront of the push for health IT and medical software adoption. Published EHR adoption rates among hospitals show promise, but adoption rates among children’s and psychiatric hospitals still lag. According to the most recent statistics from the ONC, only 55 percent of psychiatric hospitals and 15 percent of children’s hospitals had adopted a Basic EHR system in 2015. These statistics pale in comparison to the 84 percent adoption rate of a Basic EHR among general medicine.
How doctors feel about electronic health records (EHR)
Some people may cite high adoption rates of EHR software as proof that doctors see EHRs as overwhelmingly beneficial. This is not the case.
In a 2018 survey conducted by The Harris Poll on behalf of Stanford Medicine, the majority of primary care providers (PCPs) said they see the benefits of EHRs but that modern EHRs are far from perfect. For example, 63 percent of respondents said they think EHRs have “generally led to improved care,” but 49 percent of office-based PCPs think EHRs make their clinics less effective.
This could stem from many doctors reporting that they spend much more time working in their EHR than interacting with patients. The Stanford survey notes that doctors see poor ease-of-use and user experience (UX) as the primary reasons for this.
White paper: What Doctors Want From Medical Software
A 2019 study from TechnologyAdvice supports these findings. One interviewee, Dr. Inessa Fishman, MD of Aviva Plastic Surgery and Aesthetics, said, “I find a lot of medical technology to be less than user-friendly. I believe 2019’s medical technology should remember the user’s preferences, be easy to modify, incorporate dictation and voice recognition, the storage of images (and an easy ability to edit them), cloud access, and friendliness to all platforms (Chrome, Apple, Android, etc).”
Doctors use B2C software outside of work just like everyone else. They expect the software they use at work to perform just as well.
How to use this guide
This guide examines the most common tools used during Meaningful Use attestation and explores how they contribute to improving the quality of care. Additionally, it will provide an overview of what the best EHR software providers include in their offerings today.
If you want to save time on research, contact us today for a free, no-hassle shortlist of the best EHR-EMR software. Our knowledgeable Technology Advisors will get to know your specific needs and put together five recommendations of what will work best for you. Click the banner below to get started in less than five minutes.
- Which EHR EMR solution is right for your practice?
- Find out now
Common electronic health records software tools
Computerized physician order entry (CPOE)
CPOE is an EHR function that allows medical professionals to directly enter medical instructions and treatment orders. Physicians can enter orders at the point of care or off-site. Those orders are then transmitted to the proper departments for execution or fulfillment (pharmacy, laboratory, and radiology).
CPOE helps prevent prescribing errors, which are the largest identifiable source of preventable hospital medical errors. CPOE can check problem lists as well as medication lists in order to make sure that physicians aren’t prescribing harmful substances to patients.
Evidence from an early, monumental study by the Harvard School of Public Health suggests that CPOE can reduce adverse drug events by up to 80 percent, while reducing serious medication errors by 55 percent. The ONC stands behind this assertion, noting that CPOE helps doctors improve not only patient safety but also efficiency and reimbursements.
CPOE helps physicians avoid common medical errors associated with paper records. Working in conjunction with clinical decision support systems, CPOE can scan a patient’s problem list as well as their medication list to ensure that the correct medication is assigned, that unnecessary treatments aren’t performed, or that dangerous doses of necessary medication aren’t administered.
Patient portals are online applications that allow patients to access their electronic medical records and interact with their healthcare providers. Patient portals are usually standalone applications that integrate into the existing site of a healthcare provider, but they can also exist as modules that come included with EHRs.
Some patient portals allow patients to register for office visits and complete check-ups as well as request prescription refills online, order eyeglasses and contact lenses, access medical records, pay bills, review lab results, and schedule medical appointments. Patients can also connect directly with providers by leaving comments, asking questions, or sending messages.
Clinical decision support (CDS)
Clinical decision support systems serve as quality checks that help physicians avoid adverse events due to prescription errors. They can be standalone applications or can be embedded within a CPOE. CDS systems fall into two main categories: knowledge based and non-knowledge based.
Knowledge based CDS systems follow logical IF-THEN scenarios, or rules, which reference patients’ medication lists and problem lists to determine whether a physician’s recommended treatment conflicts with a medication the patient is currently taking.
Non-knowledge based CDS systems rely on machine learning that allows the program to adjust its recommendations based on past experiences. Non-knowledge based CDS systems can identify treatment patterns and reference the most recent best practices to make recommendations that support a physician’s decision making process. In theory, the longer a physician users a non-knowledge based CDS, the more effective the program will become at spotting potential adverse events.
When a CDS system finds a conflicting result, the software alerts the physician that their diagnosis may be in conflict with best practices, or a condition on the patient’s problem list. Additional CDS features include overdue reminders for preventative tasks, advice pulled from best practice guidelines, and suggestions for how to resolve various active care issues.
Considerations when buying or switching EHRs
According to the previously mentioned 2018 Stanford Medicine survey, many doctors feel EHRs improve their general level of patient care while also acknowledging their current EHRs are far from perfect. For this reason, many PCPs want to switch to an EHR with better user experience and better health information recordkeeping.
EHR change also occurs when private practice physicians join larger hospitals or integrated health systems. In such cases, the acquiring party will often push for the acquired party to adopt the same EHR system they use.
Regardless of the motivation for switching to another system, the previous experiences of doctors and other EHR users provides an evidence base from which to make more informed purchasing decisions.
Here are a few of the major considerations.
Specialty versus general
Specialists often require more focused systems than primary care physicians. For instance, specialists often see a narrower selection of patients, so they don’t need charting features that cover a wide range of possible conditions or E&M coding assistance for treatments they will never administer. Specialists often simply need less functionality so they can do more, faster. If an EHR system has charting templates for that specialty, the physician will spend less time sorting through unnecessary functions and more time with the patient.
As the EHR market matures, systems will likely begin to emerge that support only one or perhaps only a few different specialties. This could result in highly tailored, and highly efficient software.
If specialists can’t find an EHR specific to their patient population and treatment patterns, the next best option is finding a general EHR that allows for heavy customization. Customizing EHR software is often necessary to bridge the gap between a workable EHR and a highly effective one.
Physicians working in specialty-specific, solo, or private practices will have greater freedom when choosing an EHR than physicians tied to an integrated health system, although there is evidence that suggests such systems increase the overall efficiency of EHR systems.
Cloud-based EHR software versus on-premise or server-based
While adoption rates among some types of EHR systems has reached nearly 100 percent nationwide, a significant gap exists between smaller practices and their larger counterparts.
The main differentiator? Price, of course. Traditional EHR solutions are prohibitively expensive for smaller healthcare organizations. However, new, more affordable options are entering the market that will help small hospitals and independent practices compete.
Currently, the market is divided into two segments: cloud-based EHR software and on-premise or server-based software.
On-premise deployment is the traditional EHR solution and often requires purchasing new hardware, setting up private servers, and manually maintaining updates. EHR vendors often send implementation specialists directly to offices to help with setup and training. Although more expensive, on-premise software typically allows for a wider range of customization, which could be appealing for specialists or multi-specialty practices.
By contrast, cloud-based EHR doesn’t require practices to install servers, because the EHR software is hosted by the vendor. Additional hardware isn’t required except perhaps for laptops or tablets. And since these types of products work on monthly subscription fees, upfront costs are much cheaper as well. But after an extended subscription, it’s possible for subscription fees to actually exceed the licensing cost of an on-premise option.
Several cloud-based EHRs have emerged featuring free service models, most notably Kareo and, until 2018, Practice Fusion; however, following Allscripts’ purchase of Practice Fusion in a $100 million deal in February 2018, their new owners have moved away from a free model to a $100 a month fee per physician.
Each solution has its own set of benefits and drawbacks. Let’s compare the major benefits of each:
- Lower up-front costs
- Doesn’t require in-house IT staff
- Quick implementation time
- Lack of customization
- Continuing subscription fees can eventually be higher than up-front implementation costs
- Physicians may worry about data security and HIPAA compliance
- Greater opportunity for customization
- More robust support from vendors
- More likely to be interoperable
- High initial costs
- Requires in-house maintenance and hardware
- Changing EMR vendors means losing up-front investment
Interoperability and participation in health information exchanges
As defined by the Health Information and Management System Society, interoperability is “the ability of health information systems to work together within and across organizational boundaries in order to advance the effective delivery of healthcare for individuals and communities.”
Sharing health information is important not only for building complete patient histories, but also for supplying providers with accurate and timely information at the point-of-care. In paper-based systems, medical information may be missing or incomplete, which leads to preventable medical errors that can endanger patients.
Interoperability has three main levels:
An interoperability model where two health information systems can exchange data without either system interpreting the data in an advanced way. This is purely data transfer from one system to another.
Two or more health information systems can exchange data and can also interpret it by data field. This means each system can understand what type of data it’s looking at based on Health Level 7, which is the standard for exchanging health information between clinical systems.
This is the most complex level of interoperability, and also the most desirable. Semantic interoperability allows health information systems to transfer data and interpret its meaning, such as the transfer of clinical notes. Semantic interoperability is difficult because healthcare terminology is fragmented, and clinicians often refer to the same procedure in different ways.
Since individual EHR vendors receive little value for providing interoperability, they’ve mostly created systems that don’t interface with other EMR. This means that a universal health information exchange (HIE) right now would have to be almost exclusively composed of one EMR software system.
Obviously such a solution is untenable, and the US government seems to recognize this. For healthcare providers, choosing a system that supports interoperability is becoming less and less of an option and more of a requirement.
Interoperability sets the stage for the formation of HIEs, most of which currently exist on the state level. One of the main goals of Meaningful Use is to expand HIEs to a national level so providers can exchange health data across state lines.
When choosing an EHR, make sure to select a system that’s Meaningful Use certified by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology. The ONC developed the testing methods for Meaningful Use Stage 2, so any EHR with their certification should have the required amount of interoperability.
Top EHR-EMR vendors
DrChrono is a comprehensive and customizable EHR solution that works for healthcare providers of all sizes. Learn more
Kareo Clinical EHR is a cloud-based platform built by a team of healthcare providers. This EHR offers a clean user interface and is one of the most popular solutions on the market. Learn more
Amazing Charts offers healthcare software solutions such as electronic health records (EHR), practice management, and population health. These solutions come at a reasonable price and are best-suited to independent practices. Learn more
Built for healthcare providers of all size, NextGen EHR is a comprehensive and scalable solution that works for outpatient and specialty care providers. Learn more
AdvancedMD offers an EHR solution with excellent medical billing and task management features, helping healthcare providers be more productive and increase revenue. Learn more
Athenahealth is a cloud-based EHR that also offers smart mobile apps, like the Epocrates medical references app. Learn more
CareCloud is a customizable and flexible cloud-based EHR solution for specialty practices such as cardiology and neurology. Learn more
Choosing an EHR-EMR software system
If you’re still not sure about which EHR solution is right for you, give us a call! Our friendly and knowledgeable Technology Advisors are standing by to steer you in the right direction. After learning more about your specific needs, we’ll send you a free, no-hassle shortlist of the best EHR-EMR software platforms for your organization.
Ready for your free shortlist? Complete the form at the top of the page or contact us today.
- Which EHR EMR solution is right for your practice?
- Find out now
What to read next
- 5 Cerner EHR Competitors for Hospitals and Small Practices (blog)
- 4 athenahealth Competitors For Your Independent Practice (blog)
- What Doctors Want From Medical Software (white paper)
- The Top 5 Medical Practice Management Software Solutions For Your Independent Practice (blog)
- Your EHR Isn’t Just for Storing Health Records. Here Are 4 Ways It Can Also Help Boost Patient Retention. (blog)