Doctors may find it challenging to select the appropriate electronic medical record (EMR) software for their practice with so many choices available. To find an ideal physical therapy EMR system for your practice, you should first become familiar with the criteria to use and what features to look out for.

To find the right EMR software for your physical therapy practice, you should look for software that is designed specifically for physical therapists or a similar specialty. This type of system will benefit your practice because physical therapy EMR software is customized to deal with the unique characteristics of rehabilitating physical ailments and disabilities. Physical therapists often rely on imaging tests performed by other specialists, so your EMR software should be compatible with a wide variety of image types from different imaging equipment and software, including MRIs, x-rays, and other diagnostic images.

Physical therapy typically entails needs to be capable of tracking various exercises and therapeutic regimens for each patient, so your physical therapy EMR software should be able to track a patient’s progress from visit to visit, and possibly interface with mobile devices or tablets. One additional feature you may want to consider is an automated referral system, since most physical therapy patients come from physician referrals. This is designed to help make the process more efficient and easier to track.

At the start of software evaluation process, you should evaluate potential physical therapy EMR based on the following criteria:

   • Practice Size: Some software is better suited to small practices, others to larger ones. EMR software is designed for a certain number and type of user, with scalability in mind. Make sure the software you select is appropriate for the number of physical therapists in your practice.

   • Systems Architecture: You can purchase physical therapy EMR software that is installed directly on your computer servers on-site at your practice (“client-server”) or physical therapy EMR software that is located in the “cloud” that you access via the Internet (“cloud-based” or software-as-a-service -”SaaS”). Some physical therapists prefer client-server based EMR software since they feel more comfortable with HIPAA compliance when they control all the underlying data on their systems, despite the need to maintain and upgrade these systems periodically. Other physical therapists choose cloud-based EMR software because it can be accessed almost anywhere through the Internet. However, you are reliant on your Internet connection, so you need to make sure the quality and consistency of your Internet service is high. It is worth reading about all the advantages and disadvantages of each type, to make sure you choose software with the systems architecture that best matches your needs.

   • Certification: When selecting your physical therapy EMR, you should make sure that it is tested and certified by an ONC-Authorized Testing and Certification Body (“ONC-ATCB”). The ONC (Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology) is the responsible agency for establishing EMR certification standards and certifying vendor EMR products. ONC-ATCB certification assures that your EMR has met required Meaningful Use (“MU”) objectives and measures. This is a prerequisite to obtaining MU Medicaid (up to $63,750) and Medicare (up to $44,000) incentives for adopting an EMR, and avoiding penalties for not adopting one. To learn more about these topics, you may want to read the following articles:

To begin searching for the right EMR for your practice, click HERE

Unique Features of Physical Therapy EMR systems

Once you have narrowed down your EMR choices based on practice size, systems architecture, and certification, you can evaluate certain features that are unique to physical therapy practices. Such features include:

• ICD/CPT codes specific to physical therapy

• Compatibility with MRI, x-ray, and other diagnostic image formats

• Referral tracking

• Speech recognition

• Patient exercise plan tracking

• Capability of automating patient correspondence

Pre-designed Templates of Physical Therapy EMR

Physical therapy EMR vendors understand that not all specialties are alike. While there are a lot of similarities shared by all EMR software, you should be able to customize whichever EMR you choose to fit your specific needs. To facilitate this, physical therapy EMR software vendors offer a variety of pre-designed templates such as ones tailored for:

• Sports PT

• Orthopedic PT

• Arthritis

• Back pain

• Cardiopulmonary PT

• Carpal tunnel

• Neurologic PT

• Scoliosis

• Geriatric PT

• Rotator cuff

While selecting a physical therapy EMR may seem like a daunting task, having familiarity with the basic selection criteria common to all EMR software as well as some of the features customized for your specialty can help you make the right choice for your practice. Start the search for a suitable physical therapy EMR here.