3 EHR Trends Small Practices Need to Know About

By: on July 19, 2017

Technology has revolutionized the medical industry more than any other industry to date. Advancements have come in the form of both life-saving hardware and time-saving software.

Modern electronic health records (EHR) systems have tremendously streamlined medical practices for physicians, staff and patients. Due to the potential for advancement, it’s important to identify the latest trends that are driving the medical industry.

We’ve identified three of the latest trends in the EHR software market to consider as you evaluate your decision to purchase EHR software or replace your existing system.

Read on to find out how these trends are shaping the EHR software market and why you should care about them.

Trend #1: Mobile EHRs Are on the Rise

78% of surveyed physicians are using mobile-accessible EHR systems, while 60% of them used mobile devices in some form to enhance performance.

Source: Physicians Practice Technology Survey 2016

Why small practices should be interested: It’s no secret that long wait times drive patients away from a practice. You can make patient care more efficient and intuitive by incorporating mobile applications into your small practice.

Mobile applications, such as iPad EHR apps, enable you to control and manage various tasks with features such as:

  • Using your own customized layouts to view patient charts
  • Prescribing medications through proper drug references
  • Reviewing medical notes for existing patients by viewing previous visits
  • Using personalized templates and voice recognition to document medical notes

You will get more time to engage with your patients during their visits as you quickly dictate on an iPad or tap through a template. Using mobile EHR software, you can also educate your patients on their conditions by showing them charts, diagrams, videos and animations within the app.

drchrono mobile EHR (Source: MobiHealthNews)

When to opt for mobile EHRs: Many small practices will notice that their growth leads to bottlenecks within a few critical processes. A good way to understand when to go mobile is to consider what problems you’re encountering. Mobile EHRs can help with a lack of access to accurate data, inability to communicate internally and waning patient satisfaction. Let’s have a closer look at the benefits:

  • Accurate data at your fingertips. Mobile EHRs ensure access to the patient’s overall medical history is always at hand. In addition, if you update a patient record on one mobile device, it will get updated on all devices across your medical practice.
  • Enhanced internal communication. It’s important that you and your staff are able to contact each other constantly and view synchronized records and documents. Mobile EHRs centralize communication and guarantee individual access and sharing of all information with your medical staff.
  • Increased patient satisfaction. Integrating mobile EHRs into your medical practice results in higher patient satisfaction due to increased capacity for accessing data. In addition, patients appreciate the lower wait times while doctors access their data.

While the requirements of every medical practice may differ, looking for the bottlenecks that the above benefits resolve can make for a more efficient and effective medical practice.

Not sure if you need mobile EHR? Call us at (844) 686-5616 for a free consultation with an EHR

Vendors that offer mobile EHRs

Nowadays, most EHR software vendors offer a mobile app in addition to their software solution. Some of the top vendors that offer mobile EHR apps, either Android or iOS, are:

You can check them out before zeroing in on the final one that suits your requirements, as every medical practice has different and specific needs. We’ll look at some mobile EHR capabilities small practices commonly need and match them with the software vendors that offer those capabilities.

Business need: Appointment scheduling

Vendors: AdvancedMD, drchrono and Kareo

Appointment scheduling in a mobile EHR enables physicians to view complete facility schedules and update availability statuses in real time. Some mobile EHRs, such as AdvancedMD, offer color-coded calendars to better manage physicians’ time.

Business need: Staff communication

Vendors: drchrono and Meditab

Staff communication features enable all internal staff and support members to communicate with each other easily. This facilitates proper and accurate flow of information within the medical practice and allows staff members to communicate with the medical billing team.

Business need: Data syncing and charting

Vendors: AdvancedMD, drchrono and Kareo

Data syncing allows physicians to automatically sync all medical data with their mobile devices. This data is useful in preparing medical charts. Charting features enable physicians to perform dynamic photo charting through the use of various drawing tools. Physicians can upload, edit and print patient chart documents.

Trend #2: Demand for cloud-based EHRs is increasing

Nearly 50% of surveyed IT leaders at health care provider companies are planning to move their EHRs to the cloud in the near future.

Source: HIMSS Analytics 2016 Cloud Survey

Why small practices should be interested: Medical practices of all sizes are planning to migrate to the cloud, and small and midsize practices don’t want to be left behind. Cloud-based software eliminates the excessive burden of installing and maintaining a personal data server. Choosing the cloud model lets physicians focus on patient satisfaction.

The HIMSS Analytics 2016 Cloud Survey dove into the major reasons why health care providers adopt the cloud. The below chart shows the motivating factors that health care providers considered when moving to the cloud. Each factor is measured on a scale of 1-7, with “1″ being a non-motivating factor and “7″ being a highly motivating factor.

Reasons for Adopting the Cloud

As you can see in the chart above, a cloud-based EHR offers both short term benefits (daily cost savings) as well as long term benefits (scalability), covering primary concerns for small medical practices. In addition, the deployment speed and regulatory aspects are also worth considering.

When to opt for cloud-based EHRs: Many small and midsize practices are finding cloud-based EHRs to be the perfect solution for their clinical requirements. Practices can opt for cloud-based EHRs if they are able to identify immediate value or benefits based on their specific requirements.

Some benefits that are specific to small medical practices are:

  • Simple and quick implementation. No hardware or software installation is required in cloud-based EHRs, as these technologies run on the web rather than a physical computer. Therefore, implementation is much quicker.
  • Cost savings. Cloud-based EHR systems require no software licenses or hardware installation, so implementation is just a fraction of the cost of installing on-premise. According to HealthFusion, purchasing an on-premise EHR system can cost $50,000 or more in the first year while, a cloud-based EHR system requires no installation or upgradation fees.
  • Better accessibility and enhanced security of data. Cloud-based EHRs enable small practice users to log securely into the system from any location where they have internet connection. In addition, cloud based EHRs are found to increase security of data and minimize operational costs.

Due to limited resources and budgets, small medical practices require quick software installation along with significant cost savings. Also, since cloud based EHRs offer enhanced data security, it would be advisable to adopt cloud-based EHRs early in the maturation of your practice—especially before you realize the risk of going over budget.

Not sure if you need cloud-based EHR? Call us at (844) 686-5616 for a free consultation with an EHR software advisor.

Vendors that offer cloud-based EHRs

There are various software vendors that offer cloud-based EHRs. Some of the top cloud-based EHR vendors include:

Let’s look at some cloud-based EHR features that are useful for small practices and match them with the software vendors that offer those capabilities.

Business need: Automatic software updates

Vendors: Practice Fusion

Cloud-based EHRs provide automatic updates so that medical practices continue to run on the latest version of the software available.

Business need: Meaningful Use certified EHR

Vendors: eClinicalWorks and Amazing Charts

Many small practices might also be interested in receiving an incentive payment through the use of an EHR that is certified for the EHR Incentive Programs. In such cases, a “Meaningful Use” certified EHR would be useful to implement.

Trend #3: Increased adoption of patient portals

60.1% of surveyed medical practices are investing in patient portals, and the worldwide patient portal market is expected to experience a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 16.2% during the period 2015 to 2020.

Source 1: Physicians Practice Technology Survey 2016
Source 2: Meticulous Research, 2016

Why small practices should be interested: Smaller medical practices may wonder if implementing a patient portal is worth the effort on a limited budget. Practices conducting a cost-benefit analysis of patient portals should stomach the cost and try to keep an open mind to the numerous benefits. The fact remains that portals are a valuable medium for patients who want access to more medical data and, most importantly, for practices that want to save time.

Patient portals enable patients to fill out paperwork at home, saving valuable in-office time and yielding increased patient satisfaction as a result of speedier trips to the doctor. In addition, patients with critical illnesses can benefit from 24-hour access to portals by viewing consolidated lab results from different medical specialists and act accordingly.

According to a research conducted by athenaResearch involving more than 1,100 medical practices of different sizes, it was found that practices of all sizes are adopting patient portals at a nearly equal rate.

Patient Portal Adoption Rates by Number of Provider Offices

As you can see in the chart above, medical practices with 1-2 provider offices have nearly the same patient portal adoption rate as the larger ones with hundreds of providers.

When to opt for patient portals: Patient portals are a powerful and convenient way for patients, physicians and other administrative staff to work in collaboration. Small practices should opt for patient portals when they encounter issues such as excessive paperwork or telephone calls, low patient engagement and patient no-shows—these can all be addressed by patient portals.

Small practices implementing patient portals should expect the following benefits:

  • Enhanced patient engagement: Patient portals increase patient engagement as they are able to access critical information, such as lab results, readily and stay more informed. In addition, patients become more responsible regarding their overall healthcare.
  • Reduced number of patient no-shows: Portals significantly reduce the number of times patients forget to visit physicians during appointments. This is because many patient portals offer email reminders to patients regarding their upcoming appointments.

To remain in business, small medical practices must increase their patient engagement as well as reduce patient no shows. If you feel you are lagging behind your competitors in terms of engaging patients, then it must be the best time to adopt a patient portal.

Not sure if you need a patient portal? Call us at (844) 686-5616 for a free consultation with an EHR software advisor.

Vendors that offer patient portals

Several EHR software vendors offer a patient portal in addition to their general software solution. Some of the top vendors that offer patient portals are listed below. You can check these out to decide on the one that suits your requirements.

Let’s look at some patient portal capabilities that are useful for small practices and match them with the software vendors that offer those capabilities.

Business need: Improve patient engagement

Vendors: athenahealth, Allscripts and Epic

Higher levels of patient engagement results in enhanced patient care and increased patient satisfaction. These vendors offer patient portals that drive engagement and reduce staff work since patients can view lab results, make payments online and make or reschedule their own appointments.

Business need: Achieve Meaningful Use requirements

Vendors: athenahealth and Allscripts

Patient portals help medical practices identify patients who are missing important information for the purpose of achieving Meaningful Use measures. The above vendors ensure that patients get maximum meaningful information to the portal.

Read What Makes a Great Patient Portal? Top Benefits, Features and Implementation Tips to understand more about portal benefits, top portal features and how to select a patient portal.

Conclusions and Next Steps

Based on the above trends, it is clear that mobile EHRs, cloud-based EHRs and patient portals are here to stay and will continue to serve small medical practices. All these technologies enhance the overall working of medical practices, creating better experiences for physicians and patients.

If we think operationally, mobile EHRs help reduce patient wait times, decrease administrative work and provide real time access to data on the go. On the other hand, cloud-based EHRs save a lot of money, which is a high priority for small medical practices. Additionally, patient portals improve the relationship between physicians and patients through better engagement.

However, the specific requirements and budget of your medical practice would play a crucial role in adopting these technologies.

To remain competitive, it’s essential for small medical practices to be aware of these trends and develop a plan to adopt relevant solutions mentioned in the trends. You can call us at (844) 686-5616 for a free consultation with a software advisor.

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