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Physical therapy electronic medical record (EMR) / electronic health record (EHR) systems offer very different functionality from software programs geared towards primary care and related specialties, although some features are similar.
For example, like programs intended for use by primary care physicians, the core features of EMRs for physical therapy also include the ability to track progress notes, treatment plans, and assessments for multiple patients being seen on a regular and recurring basis. However, physiotherapists often will not require all of the same features as primary care doctors.
Core features and templates for a physiotherapy EMR include:
|Import legacy documents from referring physicians||Since most PT patients come from physician referrals, a PT-specific EMR should be able to interpret scanned documents, faxes, or PDF files and/or plug directly into EMRs from referring physicians to automate and expedite the new patient intake process.|
|Integrated exercise flow sheets||Document your patients’ daily exercise routines and carry over patient information from visit to visit, allowing easy tracking of patient progress. Incorporate programs with iPad or other mobile devices as desired, increasing efficiency at the point of care.|
|Physical therapy treatment guidelines||A physiotherapy EMR program should include protocols for the hundreds of diagnoses and treatments performed, providing support where needed and facilitating the overall workflow.|
|Integration with PT laboratory tests and diagnostic and treatment devices||Any EMR designed for a physiotherapy practice should import X-rays, MRIs, other diagnostic images, and laboratory results and tie them to the patient record. In addition, advanced EMRs may coordinate with electrotherapy devices to track treatments given.|
|Automated billing & reporting||Reporting on certain physical therapy outcome measures provides a boost in Medicare payments of 1%. Automated reporting of these measures and incorporated codes results in drastic cuts in billing time and costs.|
The size of the practice, existing technology, connectivity, and patient demographics may also play an important part in the decision-making process. Of course, therapists will often seek more cost-effective solutions.
Software as a Service (SaaS). SaaS, or cloud computing, is prevalent in healthcare because of its ease of implementation, overall use, and immediate record availability. Web-based solutions save practices the sometimes costly investment of on-site installation, and offer modern interfaces that look like Web browsers.
Mobile device support. The use of mobile devices is becoming more and more commonplace in medicine, whether that be iPads, iPhones, or Android devices. As this demand increases, vendors are quickly developing applications and tools for mobile devices, allowing physicians the ease of data accessibility both on and off-premise. Entire encyclopedias of critical information can be accessible instantly via mobile apps.
ONC-ATCB Certification. In 2009, President Obama signed into law the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health is a large part of this act offering a $19 billion incentive for medical offices who transition to EHRs. In April 2012, proposed criteria for Meaningful Use Stage 2 was released proposing a rule that require all Certified EMR Technology “to include, at a minimum, support for the achievement of "meaningful use" by eligible health care providers beginning with the EHR reporting periods in FY/CY 2014.”