EMR integration’s significance is undeniable; it enables better decision-making, reduces medical errors, and boosts patient engagement. Electronic Medical Systems function independently, but for optimal results, they need to interact. Regrettably, many hospitals don’t practice this.
Our experience with Bueno clarified the issue. Bueno applies machine learning to analyze user’s EHR data, ensuring timely preventive care. The app shares this data with the healthcare team to advise patients on check-ups, lab tests, or symptom watch.
But there was a hurdle. Healthcare providers could see the data, but accessing records from different platforms was a struggle. To solve this, we merged various solutions, consolidating all data in one spot. We used platforms like Orb Health, Validic, and Mayo Clinic.
Today, we’re aware that EMR integration issues still persist in many medical firms. In this article, we’ll guide you on connecting different EMRs, explain its necessity, and discuss potential challenges.
An EMR system is a digital platform stored in the cloud, holding patient medical data. In the not-so-distant past, medical data was etched on paper, stored in bulky folders, and piled high on shelves. Clinicians had to leaf through these volumes, laboriously seeking the information they needed to make swift diagnoses. However, with EMR systems, this relic of a practice is no longer a necessity.
Imagine no longer battling with ink and paper, but rather smoothly navigating a sleek digital platform. This digital library, or EMR, neatly organizes and securely stores patient data. It’s a resource for medical history, diagnostic data, lab test results, appointments, billing details, and more.
It’s not only doctors who have access to this knowledge. Patients, too, can step into this library. Through a digital door known as a patient portal, they can glance at their health story unfolded.
Every prescribed medicine, every immunization, every treatment plan is at their fingertips, as well as the doctors’. Informed decisions can then be made, not only based on a single page of information but the entire medical narrative of the patient. The EMR system, hence, is a potent tool empowering both the healthcare provider and the recipient, and typically includes:
- Medical history
- Diagnostic information
- Lab test results
- Billing details
- Prescription and refill data from pharmacies
- Patient portals
- Treatment plans
- Immunization records
There are over 600 EMR vendors according to review sites. However, we’ll focus on discussing those we’ve successfully integrated at The APP Solutions. We’ll share our experiences with CernerAmbulatory, Epic EMR, DrChrono, and eClinicalWorks.
Cerner, a US medical software titan, delivers digital health data solutions. It caters to multispeciality and smaller practices. Key offerings include Cerner Powerchart, Caretracker, and Cerner Millenium.
Key Features: population health, revenue cycle, medical reporting, lab information, and patient portal.
- Strong interoperability promotes collaboration.
- Cost-effective for small practices.
- Advanced patient portal for health information.
- Software can mimic practice’s branding.
- Fewer integrations, such as CRM.
- Regular updates can pose learning challenges.
Epic EMR is a hospital favorite, holding medical records for over 253 million Americans. It shines in large settings. Notable features are telemedicine, billing, e-prescription, templates, and analytics.
Epic EMR Pros:
- Detailed patient information reports.
- Telehealth for remote consultations.
- AI and analytics to enhance decision-making.
Epic EMR Cons:
- High setup cost.
- Steep learning trajectory.
- Limited interoperability.
DrChrono provides web and app-based EMR systems. It assists with appointments, reminders, and billing, automating routine tasks.
Key Features: patient charting, telehealth, appointment scheduling, and reminders.
- Affordability benefits small or new practices.
- Comprehensive training for software admins.
- Secure direct messaging for patients and doctors.
- No Android app for doctors.
- Limitation on appointment reminder methods.
eClinicalWorks supplies digital health records, patient management, and population health solutions. It caters to over 4000 US clients. Key features are revenue cycle management, patient portal, wellness tracking, activity dashboard, and telehealth.
- Operates on multiple platforms like Mac and Windows.
- User-friendly interface.
- Interoperability connects with other systems.
- Pricey for small practices.
The healthcare sector is one of the world’s top data generators. It is critical that the data generated is collected and accessible from a single point. The main reasons why integrating EMR is important will be discussed below.
Healthcare, a prime target for cyberattacks, experienced 5.8% of total cyber-attacks in 2022. They focused on health records. EMR systems, HIPAA-compliant, strengthen data security. They safeguard patient records against cyber threats and natural disasters.
EMR integration offers a solution for data fragmentation. It consolidates patient records, making them easily accessible. So, doctors can view complete patient histories at a glance. This aids in accurate diagnoses.
Consider the effect of a unified report system. It would compile laboratory, pharmaceutical, and dental department data. This results in efficiency. Doctors make quicker decisions. They don’t wait for paper-based results. Automated record collection lightens staff workload too.
Keeping patient data in different systems can cause errors. In fact, medical mistakes are the third leading cause of death in the U.S. EMR integration helps. It detects errors in record keeping, thereby promoting patient safety.
Access to complete patient information benefits healthcare providers. It leads to better understanding of patients’ conditions and helps doctors diagnose accurately. Also, timely access to records informs the design of preventive measures.
EMR systems do not just serve healthcare professionals. Patients also access their information. This breeds interest and empowerment. Patients become proactive in managing their health. Plus, easy doctor access via telehealth lessens the stress of physical consultations.
Healthcare providers often hesitate to integrate Electronic Medical Records due to its complexity. Let’s explore the most common issues.
Deploying an EMR system can burn a hole in your pocket. Initial implementation may require you to shell out around $100,000. Small-sized practices might find this cost daunting. But, don’t worry. More wallet-friendly options like pre-built systems exist. Take Dchrono for instance. With a monthly fee of just $19, it’s a suitable pick for growing establishments.
However, be mindful if you’re eyeing free EHRs. In fact, we don’t recommend open source systems. They usually come with restrictions – lack of customization and a ceiling on patient data storage. Moreover, the choices for free EHR systems are slim. Due to their vital role in healthcare – with lives at stake – most prefer not to risk relying on a totally free, open-source EMR.
Facilities already having EMR systems might wish to unite them through a single solution. However, finding one that fits all systems like a glove is a considerable challenge. The different systems might store data in diverse formats, complicating the integration process.
Migrating data from paper to digital, while linking it all, demands considerable effort. It might take weeks or months to transfer all health information completely. During this phase, potential information loss could shake patient trust. Careful planning and adequate time allocation can help manage this issue effectively.
A tough nut to crack in EMR integration is securing private data. With medical records susceptible to breaches, it’s crucial to ensure watertight security. As an illustration, in 2021 alone, cyber-attacks exposed over 45 million records. To combat this, opt for a HIPAA-compliant vendor with a strong security framework.
Human-related challenges could put a spoke in the wheel of EMR integration. Resistance from staff towards the new system, incorrect data entry, and lack of training are common obstacles. Implementing a thorough training regimen can help staff adjust to the EMR software, ensuring accurate health record entry.
Interoperability lets healthcare providers share patient data. For interoperability to be comprehensive, FHIR and HL7, and other interoperability standards come into play.
If you want to know more about them, check out our post on the differences between HL7 and FHIR.
That said, achieving smooth data exchange isn’t that simple.
Firstly, not all systems speak the same ‘language’. We’ve got multiple data formats to deal with. Translating them so they align is a Herculean task.
Additionally, ensuring data safety while exchanging it between systems is tough. Security has to be top-notch. A single leak can breach patient privacy.
It’s also about change – old habits die hard. Many healthcare providers are still adjusting to new protocols. It takes time to shift from traditional methods.
Here’s a roadmap to help you through integrating your EMR.
Begin your EMR integration journey with meticulous planning. Identify the needs of your practice, devise your strategy, set goals, and allocate time for staff training and the overall implementation process. The size of your practice and the volume of data to handle are crucial to your planning.
The next stage is design. You’ll need to consider the features you want in your EMR system. Focus on developing a tailor-made solution that connects all your EMRs and ensures an easy-to-navigate interface for your staff.
Should you desire a patient portal and telehealth functionalities, incorporate a mobile-friendly design. Consider engaging a development team to help with coding architecture at this stage.
Next, transform your design into functional software. This phase entails converting data from diverse formats across various EMRs. Given the potential risk of errors, which could compromise patient safety, it’s paramount to ensure accurate conversion of data. Always double-check to mitigate mistakes.
Post-construction, the system needs to be rigorously tested. This step aims to identify any bugs, gauge user interactions, and evaluate the system’s reliability, data precision, and impact on your operations.
Finally, you’re ready to go live. Ensure your system complies with HIPAA regulations for health data security. Be open to feedback from users to facilitate continuous improvement.
Upon successful implementation, your new system should improve operational efficiency for your staff and enhance patient health outcomes.
Staff training is a critical aspect of EMR integration. Compile a comprehensive training manual to guide your staff through the new system. As not all employees may be tech-savvy, split the training into manageable segments for ease of comprehension.
Before going digital, you must pick. Is EHR or EMR right for you? Here’s how they compare.
Records patient data in one practice.
Stores patient data from all providers.
Shares data within one practice.
Shares data with multiple health professionals.
Transferring data is difficult.
Transferring data is easier.
Focuses on diagnosis and treatment.
Gives a broad view of patient’s care.
Mainly for providers’ use.
Patients can also access their records.
Good for tracking data in one practice.
Better for sharing updates with other caregivers.
Your choice between an EHR and an EMR depends on the needs of your practice and your patients. If you value a comprehensive, shareable, and patient-involved approach, an EHR might be a better fit. On the other hand, if you’re a single practice focusing on diagnosis and treatment, an EMR may suit you best.
Healthcare integration services, like EMR, ERP, and EHR, manage health information. When selecting one, you need to consider several key factors:
When setting up an integration system, think long-term. Partner with an experienced vendor. They can help you grow your operations without losing data.
You will handle private data. So, your vendor must prioritize security. They should have proper industry certification. Also, they must understand HIPAA and other compliance needs.
Don’t entrust data management to an inexperienced vendor. Read reviews of different vendors. Talk to their current or past clients to judge their skills.
Avoid vendors with slow, inflexible systems. Choose a vendor that can adapt to your specific needs. This prevents unnecessary additions and keeps costs down.
Your vendor should provide excellent support. Fast responses to issues can prevent major downtime. This keeps your patients satisfied.
Implementing an EMR system brings great benefits to healthcare providers. Despite challenges like costs, the rewards are greater. To implement the steps we discussed, you need a skilled software development company.
The APP Solutions is that company. We’re qualified to build your EMR integration system. We support you through every development stage, from defining business goals to selecting the best vendor for your practice.
Connect with us to discuss your projectClick here