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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.
Therapist dashboard screenshot in Practice Pro
However, physiotherapists often will not require all of the same features as primary care doctors. For example, physical therapy practices and other therapy groups, such as speech therapy, typically require robust documentation management solutions.
Physical therapy software offers many benefits that increase the overall efficiency and productivity within a medical practice. Some of them are:
Enhanced record keeping. Physical therapy and documentation software solutions allow easier upkeep of patients’ medical records. Whether the prescription is for checking a single body part or for a rigorous physical therapy regimen, the solution maintains records in an organized manner.
Makes it easier to read. As most of doctors are infamous for their illegible handwriting, a digital physical therapy software would help patients, helpers and staff easily understand the doctor’s notes.
Faster billing. As billing is not considered to be the most glamorous job in a medical practice, this physical therapy solution enables practitioners to perform quick billing, and hence, minimize the overall time to complete a job.
Complete documentation. Since a lot of notes and thoughts are involved in a patient’s single visit, it is important to document all the details accurately. A physical therapy solution helps in correctly filling all the minute details and makes the properly organized files readily available to medical staff at all times.
Automation of tasks. A physical therapy software solution automates several tasks (such as prescription management and documentation) that otherwise consume too much time if manually done by the staff. The solution streamlines all the procedures and processes of the medical practice so as to enable the staff to provide high-quality care to patients.
Faster sharing of records. Paper records are sent and received through a photocopy in the mail or via fax to and from another location. On the other hand, electronic records and other digital information can be shared in a much faster and simpler way by using a physical therapy software.
Better quality control. A physical therapy solution helps manage the overall quality of service in medical practices. The solution also enhances clinical efficiency by supporting physical therapists in the diagnosis procedure and improving the quality of patient care. Avoids loss of records. Since paper records always face the risk of getting damaged, misplaced or lost, a physical therapy solution helps securely store all the information online.
Easy scheduling management. When all the records are stored digitally, all scheduling tasks become simpler to manage. With a physical therapy solution, medical practitioners can easily track and manage all their patients without being concerned about complex-to-navigate paper records.
Enhances decision making. As the physical therapy solution serves as an excellent source of information, it augments the decision-making process during patient assessments. Physical therapy solutions offer best-practice approaches and prescriptions based on the patient’s key symptoms and complaints.
|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 percent. 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.” However, that requirement has been extended through 2016 for eligible health care providers who began the program in 2011 or 2012.
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