A growing number of practices are now using electronic health record (EHR) systems, due largely to federal legislation that incentivizes implementation. However, the American Medical Association recently acknowledged that some EHRs “get in the way of patient care”—partly because the software is not user-friendly enough.
Solo practitioners are particularly vulnerable to the consequences of a clunky system. Larger practices typically have more employees and/or dedicated IT personnel to help weather an EHR system’s learning curve. A single-doctor practice, however, must make do with limited support staff—a concern that makes some small practices forgo EHR adoption altogether.
To help these practices choose a system that will deliver all the benefits of an EHR while limiting the usability challenges, we’ve compiled a list of five user-friendly EMR systems for solo practices with positive user reviews. We started by identifying popular systems among independent physicians, then calculated which were rated highest for their “ease of use” by actual EHR users on Software Advice’s website (full methodology detailed below).
Ease-of-use rating: Five out of five stars.
System overview: This Web-based system supports most major medical specialties and has been certified as a Complete EHR by the Certification Commission for Health Information Technology (CCHIT). Its capabilities include e-prescribing, lab integration, SOAP notes, electronic document management with e-faxing, communication portals and more.
What users say: “The thing I like best about this product is how simple it is. I have all of the bells and whistles available, but still have no trouble with using my [electronic medical records] EMR. Every time one of my colleagues sees me using this software, they tell me how beautiful it is and how much better my progress notes are than any other specialist in the area.” —Dr. Jorge Loredo, P.A.
Why it’s good for solo practices: This system’s monthly subscription fee includes unlimited live technical support, so solo doctors can call the vendor directly for one-on-one guidance at no additional cost.
Ease-of-use rating: 4.5 out of five stars.
System overview: ChartLogic EMR, the first complete ambulatory EHR in the marketplace to be certified for meaningful use, is a cloud-based product that also offers the option to be deployed on-premise. The solution’s capabilities include electronic charting, document management, e-prescriptions, coding tools and more.
What users say: “Everything is pretty straightforward, and you do not have to keep clicking a bunch of keys to find what you need. This EHR meets our needs by providing everything for a patient’s visit from start to finish. It’s also capable of meeting our meaningful use requirements.” —Odulia Sites, the practice of Dr. Terry J. Sites, P.L.L.C.
Why it’s good for solo practices: This EHR is integrated with proprietary voice recognition technology that allows physicians to dictate notes directly into the system. This can save time, allowing physicians to see more patients per day.
Ease-of-use rating: 4.2 out of five stars.
System overview: Kareo’s EHR system is both free and cloud-based. It’s geared toward solo and small practices in any specialty. The system is compatible with mobile devices and includes documentation templates, auto-populating ICD coding fields, a dashboard view of patient appointments, a patient portal and more.
What users say: “The Kareo EHR is the easiest and most intuitive of the three products I have used. … I am a solo practitioner and enter all the data myself. I don’t have a lot of time available to learn something the hard way on a daily basis.” —Richard Keyser, A.R.N.P., Psychiatric Mental Health Associates
Why it’s good for solo practices: There are no contracts or initial setup fees for this system. Kareo offers this product for free as an incentive for users to buy their practice management and/or billing products, which integrate with the EHR system.
Ease-of-use rating: 4.2 out of five stars.
System overview: PrognoCIS by Bizmatics, Inc. is available as either a cloud-based or an on-premise system. The software offers a specialty-specific template library for health data documentation, as well as drug interaction alerts, a search query functionality for the patient database and more.
What users say: “The EHR is user-friendly and allows you to chart with accuracy and efficiency. With the use of the podiatry templates, it made the start-up relatively easy.” —Gus Constantouris, D.P.M., Constantouris Foot Pain
Why it’s good for solo practices: The vendor assigns an Implementation Specialist to every new client to serve as a “personal guide” to the software. The Specialist also helps set up the EHR to ensure it interfaces with the practice’s medical devices, lab systems and any practice management or billing software that may already be in place.
Ease of use rating: 3.5 out of five stars.
System overview: Practice Fusion’s free, Web-based software was cited in one recent study as the market share leader for solo and small clinician practices. It supports most major medical specialties. Among the software’s capabilities: patient scheduling, charting, e-prescribing and lab and imaging integration.
What users say: “[It is] fast to add features, and [does] almost everything I need in an EMR. The fact that it’s no cost is a plus. For the record, I would probably pay $100 per month or more to use this. I’m on it six days a week, from the office and from home.” —Dr. Vatsal Thakkar, NYU School of Medicine
Why it’s good for solo practices: This system was specifically developed for small to midsize providers, and offers unlimited customer service at no charge. While a free, partially ad-supported version of the software is available, practices have the option of upgrading to a paid, ad-free version.
To determine the products featured in this article, we first compiled a list of the most commonly used EHR systems among solo practitioners. The first half of that list came from a 2014 survey of U.S.-based EHR software users about what product they’re currently using. For this piece, we only counted products used by solo practitioners.
The other half of that list was derived from an analysis of Software Advice interactions with potential buyers. Our advisors regularly speak with buyers who contact Software Advice seeking new EHR software. The data used to create this report was collected by our advisors during those interactions for business purposes, rather than for market research. We selected interactions with U.S. single doctor practices during June 2014 to June 2015, and counted the most commonly cited products they used.
From that list of 20 commonly used EHRs, we determined “ease of use” rankings for all products. To do this, we analyzed our proprietary reviews data by ranking products based on their average “ease of use” star rating (out of a possible five). Products with less than 10 reviews on our website were excluded from the “ease of use” rating calculations.