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Buyer's Guide

by Gaby Loria,
Market Research Associate
Last Updated: March 17, 2017


Skin care is becoming increasingly complicated, and with a rising number of skin cancer cases, dermatology practitioners and doctors need to stay updated on technologies for administering effective treatment. As of today, skin cancer is the most common form of cancer. For dermatologists, this means a greater number of patients and greater levels of patient care.

But it’s not easy to operate a dermatology practice in this day and age. Practitioners need to manage both the clinical and business functions of their practices. Clinical functions include patient entries, diagnosis, imaging and lab tests; business functions include accounting, billing and human resources. This means that the number of tasks within normal working hours every day gets doubled.

The dermatology electronic medical record (EMR) software market can be confusing if you consider the variety of vendors that offer different features and cater to varying practice sizes. We have prepared this guide to help buyers understand the features they should be looking for in dermatology EMR solutions.

In this guide, we will cover the following topics:

What Is Dermatology EMR Software?
Common Features of Dermatology EMR Software
Market Trends to Understand

What Is Dermatology EMR Software?

Not all medical systems are created equal. While certain elements, such as EMR/electronic health record (EHR) systems, billing and scheduling, carry across most of the medical field, dermatologists and cosmetic surgeons have unique needs specific to their specialty.

Dermatologists and plastic surgeons rely heavily on visual cues, so graphical integration is a key element in dermatology-specific systems. More than 50 electronic medical record vendors serve the dermatology specialty and a handful focus exclusively on dermatology. Evaluate these specialists, as well as those multi-specialty vendors that have developed specific templates and functionality for dermatologists.

Common Features of Dermatology EMR Software

In addition to core functionality—which includes electronic medical records, billing, inventory management and scheduling features—dermatologists should assess their EMR solution for the following specialty-specific criteria:

Before and after photo comparisons The EMR solution should be fully capable of storing before and after photos of your patients and integrate seamlessly with your digital camera and other imaging systems. It should also have the ability to draw directly on photos to demonstrate the procedure to the patient.
Dermatology-specific EMR templates Generic EMRs may have templates dermatologists don’t need and they may be missing sections that would make charting quicker and easier for dermatologists. The right solution will include templates for acne, psoriasis, skin cancer, other pathologies and immune-mediated skin diseases and cosmetic treatments.
E&M coding assistance There are hundreds of diagnoses, not all of which fit every condition perfectly, and the codes are all changing in the move from ICD-9 to ICD-10. Many EMR solutions include definitions and support for evaluation and management coding and industry-specific solutions provide more assistance for unusual situations, while avoiding the clutter of thousands of unrelated codes.
Graphical charting As a highly visual specialty, graphical documentation of diagnoses and treatments is critical. Dermatology-specific EMRs may allow touchscreen or digital-pen drawings to identify the location of treatment.
Dermatology workflow management It is important that your EMR workflow maps to the way you, as a dermatologist, practice medicine. Step-by-step procedures facilitate with mapping, interpretation, diagnosis and surgery to increase accuracy and reduce errors, seamlessly integrating into your EMR without distracting from the interaction with the patient.
Teledermatology Most medical systems are already connected to the web in some way. Truly bringing your practice into the 21st century means using the internet safely and securely to exchange knowledge, establish second opinions or follow up with individuals with chronic skin conditions.

Market Trends to Understand

When selecting the best EMR software for dermatology, it’s important to consider trends that are common in this segment. These trends are generally applicable to most facets of EHRs, though EHRs for dermatology do have specific applications as well. Being aware of system trends will help you select the most beneficial practice for your practice. Some of the current trends include:

Mobile device support. Mobile devices are becoming increasingly popular in medical practices. Dermatology EMRs offer many applications that are accessible via iPad, Android tablets and similar mobile devices. Vendors have adapted to specialized physicians’ needs, such as dermatologists. Dermatology-specific EMRs supply a wealth of applications that are useful and time-saving for dermatology practices.

Software as a service (SaaS). Cloud-based EMR software for dermatology is seeing increased adoption because on-premise solutions continue to be a heftier initial investment. Also many dermatologists prefer the ease-of-use provided by a cloud-based product.

ICD-10 compliance. In October 2015, the US Department of Health and Human Services released the 10th version of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD) codes, which are called ICD-10. Having ICD-10 compliance is mandatory for practices if they want to claim Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements. Ever since the new codes were released, a majority of vendors have started offering ICD-10 code compliance.

Outsourced billing. Billing to Medicare, Medicaid and private insurances is not easy. A lot of documentation is involved in the process, and tracking the status of these payments is an added hassle. Due to this challenge, many small and midsize practices are hesitant in accepting insurance and Medicaid payments.

However, outsourced billing allows users to transfer all their billing operations and documentation to a third-party vendor. This outsourcing simplifies the whole ordeal for small and midsize practices. As a result, many software vendors have started including billing services in their offering. Some have also started partnering with third-party billing services to offer this functionality.

ONC-ATCB certification. Under the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act, medical practices are entitled to receive reimbursements of up to $44,000 in the form of Medicare and Medicaid premiums for their software purchase. To be eligible for reimbursements, practices need to be compliant with the standards decided by the Office of the National Coordinator (ONC).

As a result of this measure, many software vendors have applied for the certification. Any buyer who aims to receive the reimbursement needs to evaluate all the available EMR solutions that offer this certification.

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