Obstetricians and gynecologists (OB/GYNs) face a wide variety of challenges: managing the care of patients of all ages, from puberty through menopause and beyond; treating both acute and chronic health conditions and of course, managing risks throughout pregnancy and childbirth.
OB/GYNs need a medical software solution that supports them in addressing these challenges, making the patient’s experience as happy and comfortable as possible. OB/GYN is one of the biggest markets in the medical industry, as it has high entry costs and a large number of providers. As such, the biggest EHR companies focus many of their resources on this specialty.
These are some of the features to look for in an OB/GYN-specific electronic medical record (EMR)/electronic health record (EHR) solution:
|Pregnancy and perinatal tracking||The OB/GYN workflow should track every stage of pregnancy, making it easy for the physician to see, at every step, the progress the patient is making. The system should provide a prenatal record that will be accepted by hospitals, clinicians and birthing centers and be integrated into parental and pediatric record after childbirth.|
|Ultrasound imaging integration||The system should track and record ultrasounds and perinatal testing, link images to the patient’s chart, make annotations and import the raw data and measurements. Some software even calculates the gestational age based on the data imported from the ultrasound and can use that to track the baby’s progress.|
|Patient education||As expectant parents need a lot of information, it can be tough to keep track of what they’ve received and what is left to provide. Many OB/GYN EMR solutions have specific guides that can be printed or emailed to patients and allow the physician to document the educational material that was discussed with or given to the patient each trimester.|
|OB/GYN templates||In addition to the myriad templates addressing sexual and reproductive health, some EMRs have obstetrics templates that automatically open and populate based on gestational age, saving physicians time and energy that can be better spent on interactions with the patient.|
|Risk management system||As the prenatal flowchart is collecting months’ worth of data, including fetal heart rate, weight gain, blood pressure and glucose, the EMR can help the physician and family mitigate risk by identifying potential areas for concern before they become a problem.|
|Patient scheduling||Most EMRs manage patient scheduling, but pregnancy requires keeping to a specific schedule, visits with the ultrasound technician, coordinating with the hospital or birthing center and managing flexibility around delivery dates and times. Make sure the scheduling functions take all these elements into account.|
|Patient portal||Many EMRs now offer or integrate with secure, online portals for patients where they can access information about their health care. These portals generally allow patients to view their test results, send secure messages to their care team, request appointments and receive appointment reminders.|
|OB/GYN-specific E&M coding and billing||With a comprehensive clinical database of OB/GYN and perinatal ICD-10 and CPT codes, an EMR should make the billing process simpler and easier, supporting the physician in completing ACOG forms and expediting the billing process.|
Not all practices will need all these tools, and different systems support these functions to varying degrees, so it’s important to identify the ones that are most critical to you.
Instead of just choosing the most popular solution on the market, invest time in product demos of the various options. Undertaking such a process of elimination will help you find the right solution and give you the opportunity to get feedback from your staff regarding the product.
As a potential buyer, here are some market trends that you should consider before you make a purchase decision:
Laboratory integration. Doctors always need quick access to the medical records of their patients. Many medical procedures are linked to test results and in such cases, delays may result in further complication of the problem(s). This functionality allows users to integrate their EHR software with histopathology labs and receive test results in real time. As it provides instant results, laboratory integration is one of the most requested functionalities in the OB/GYN EHR software market.
Meaningful use certification. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) provides reimbursements to medical practices if they purchase and show meaningful use of EHR software. Since the rollout of this Act in 2009, many practitioners have adopted EHR software in their practices.
The Office of the National Coordinator-Authorized Testing and Certification Body (ONC-ATCB) is the government body that evaluates software vendors for the meaningful use certification. Its measurement criteria include patient demographics capture, data security and patient privacy.
Buyers who want to be eligible for the reimbursements should evaluate software vendors that are compliant with the meaningful use standards. This measure has resulted in many vendors filing for this certification.
E-prescription. This functionality allows practitioners to send patient prescriptions to pharmacies electronically. It saves precious time spent on writing up prescriptions or faxing documents to pharmacists. E-prescribing capabilities is a regulatory requirement to obtain certification for meaningful use incentives, which is why most vendors offer it.
Outsourced billing. Billing is always a complex process, as patients must track their invoices, bills and insurance claims. The process is further complicated if it involves Medicare and Medicaid payments. This complication has been a major barrier for small and midsize practices in accepting insurance and Medicaid payments.
Outsourced billing simplifies the process of billing by offloading the job to a third-party billing service. These providers are capable of managing all types of payments, including Medicare, Medicaid and third-party insurance providers. Many software vendors are partnering with billing service providers to offer this functionality. Outsourced billing has also improved the adoption of Medicare and insurance payments among small and midsize practices.
Cloud-based deployment model. Cloud-based products are gaining popularity in the market because of their low initial cost and ease of use for non-technical users. These products have led to the quick adoption of EMR software in OB/GYN medical practices and now, many on-premise vendors have started migrating to this technology.
Patient portals. These portals are secure applications that allow users to deliver test results in real time. They’re the fastest method of sharing test results and, therefore, many vendors offer this functionality.
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