As an independent medical practice owner, you know how important it is to have the right tools to deliver healthcare services and improve staff productivity. And while you know this to be true overall, there’s a good chance you could benefit from detailed insight into the software commonly used by medical practices, hospitals, and clinics—electronic health records (EHR) systems, aka electronic medical records (EMR) systems.
According to Gartner, “Care transformation (changing the way care is delivered and tracking the changes) confers the largest benefit but takes the greatest investment in data, technology, leadership, and process change, and it requires a full set of EHR functions” (full content available to clients).
Let’s take a look at some advantages and disadvantages of EHR systems to help you figure out whether this tool is one your practice should invest in.
5 advantages of EHR systems for independent practices
The same Gartner report notes that the advantages of EHR software greatly depend on who you’re asking. In other words: EHR advantages will differ across independent doctors, patients, hospitals, and large healthcare organizations.
To help cut through the confusion, Gartner came up with “categories of EHR benefits”—five of which directly apply to independent practices. While the time and effort users have to put in before realizing these benefits will differ, the advantages of EHR software are clear.
Here are the benefit categories of EHR systems for independent practices:
1. Reduced labor
- Faster review of patient data
- Less time spent on calling or emailing appointment reminders
- Easier documentation using templates
2. Minimized resource consumption
- Less paper forms, reduced need to print physical copies
- Fewer duplicate or unnecessary lab orders
- Easier medication management
3. Improved care delivery
- Faster time to treatment
- Better medication management
- Earlier and better diagnoses
4. Easier data collection and analysis
- Faster report creation
- More thorough view of data trends
- Inventory control
5. More organizational efficiency
- Improved collaboration between partners and other providers
- Easier billing through coding applications
- Reduced risk of malpractice claims due to better documentation
2 disadvantages of EHRs for independent practices
Extensive as this list of EHR benefits is, no software type is free of drawbacks. And while the disadvantages of EHR number fewer than the benefits, there are two categories of drawbacks worth looking at—time and money.
1. EHRs take time
It takes a lot of time to choose and deploy an EHR system. As you determine your budget, decide which features you need, schedule product demos, and negotiate with software providers—it starts to become clear that this isn’t something you can roll out in a few weeks.
Even after you select the right product, you’ll have to build in enough time for your team to learn the system before you start seeing it work smoothly.
2. EHRs cost money
There are different costs (upfront, recurring, hidden) associated with adopting new EHR systems, and independent medical practices like yours are looking for affordable options. If you want to reap all the benefits EHRs have to offer, it’s not going to happen free of charge.
There are a lot of variables involved in estimating how much it costs to adopt and install a new EHR system, so rather than trying to find that number and building your budget around it, we recommend figuring out how much you can spend and finding EHR products that fit within that limit.
When you’re ready to make the switch, start small
If you’re ready to begin looking at EHR systems, we have a few top options for you to start with.
Each software option below (listed alphabetically) is included in our 2021 EMR FrontRunners report. Software Advice’s FrontRunners reports use recently published user reviews to score products in two primary areas: usability and customer satisfaction. The three products listed below fall in the top five products with maximum value on the usability scale. You can read our full product selection methodology here.
ChARM Health is a cloud-based EHR solution designed to help independent medical practices manage their daily operations. The tool offers features specific to specialties such as pediatrics, dental, gynecology, internal medicine, and integrative medicine. It is certified by ONC-ACB for meaningful use and offers a mobile app.
This software is suitable for small independent practices, midsize practices, as well as clinics with multiple locations.
InSync is a fully integrated solution that offers EHR, practice management, and revenue cycle management capabilities. The tool offers e-prescribing, charting, appointment management, patient portal, and voice recognition capabilities. InSync is HIPAA-compliant and certified for ONC-ATCB and meaningful use. It offers a mobile app that provides quick on-the-go access and file-sharing functionality for physicians on Android and iOS devices.
The software is best suited for small and midsize medical practices.
Praxis is a customizable EHR solution that uses artificial intelligence (AI) technology called concept processing, rather than templates. The tool offers features such as e-prescribing, charting, patient scheduling, lab and imaging integration, and voice recognition. The software is certified by ONC-ATCB and for meaningful use.
The software is suitable for small and midsize practices across various specialties, including family practice, internal medicine, pain management, urology, integrated medicine, and endocrinology.
While it’s important to know the advantages of EHR systems as well as their disadvantages, it’s worth noting that some issues associated with the latter are often a result of factors beyond the systems’ control. For example, issues such as physician burnout, decreased productivity, or negative returns on investment could be due to insufficient staff training or a poor software rollout.
To ensure you find the right EHR software for your practice and nail the implementation, here are a few next steps:
- Keep your software search going by checking out our full EHR software directory for more products.
- Download our pricing guide to find published pricing for popular EHR systems.
- Schedule a call or click here to chat with an EHR software advisor now to discuss your practice’s unique EHR needs. Our advisors will consider your budget and feature requirements as they build a shortlist of products that fit those specifications.
We selected these three products from our 2021 EMR FrontRunners report. Just to give an overview, only products that earn top user ratings make the cut as FrontRunners. To be eligible for consideration, a product must have at least 20 unique user reviews in the last 24 months. Check out our full FrontRunners methodology for more detail.
The three products included here met the following criteria:
- Must fall among the top five products having maximum value on the usability scale
- Be a stand-alone EHR software product
- Offer these features: charting, e-prescribing, and appointment scheduling