With hundreds of EMR choices on the market, doctors may find it a challenge to select the appropriate software for their practice. In order to maximize your chances of finding the right EMR for your anesthesiology practice, you should look for software that is designed specifically for anesthesiologists or a similar specialty. Anesthesiology EMR software is customized to deal with the unique characteristics of administering anesthesia in a variety of settings and situations. Anesthesiology is a very precise specialty in which slight differences in such factors as body weight, drug interactivity, cardiac output, age, metabolism, ventilation, and timing influence what type and how anesthesia is administered. EMR software focused on this specialty must be able to capture all this type of data. Anesthesiologists rely heavily on medical devices to help monitor and detect abnormalities in blood pressure, heart rate, oxygen levels, etc. so your software choice should also be able to integrate with blood pressure monitors, ECG, Spirometers, and other devices. Anesthesiologists must interact with a team of nurses and other physicians (in addition to the patient), so anesthesiology EMR systems need to be able to seamlessly export and import data from other specialty-specific EMR software. Additionally, since a critical part of your specialty involves drug interactions, you should make sure that your anesthesiology EMR has a robust alert system capable of notifying you of any potential adverse drug reactions or allergies prior to any anesthesia delivery.
At the start of software evaluation process, you should evaluate potential anesthesiology 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 anesthesiologists in your practice.
- Systems Architecture: You can purchase anesthesiology EMR software that is installed directly on your computer servers on-site at your practice (“client-server”) or anesthesiology EMR software that is located in the “cloud” that you access via the Internet (“cloud-based” or software-as-a-service “SaaS”). Some anesthesiologists 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 anesthesiologists 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 HERE, to make sure you choose software with the systems architecture that best matches your needs.
- Certification: When selecting your anesthesiology 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:
- What you need to know about ONC-ATCB
- EMR / EHR Government Meaningful Use Incentives Information
- EMR Deadline: Will I be Assessed Penalties for Not Using an EMR System?
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 anesthesiology practices.
Such features include:
- ICD/CPT codes specific to anesthesiology
- Integration with critical care monitoring equipment that capture physiologic data
- Integration with ECG, EKG and other devices
- Capability of interacting with surgeons’ notes, perfusion records and nurses’ notes
- Time calculator
- Anesthesia machine (Fraser Harlake, Ohmeda, Bickford, etc.) data compatibility
Anesthesiology 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 whatever EMR you choose to fit your specific needs.
To facilitate this, anesthesiology EMR vendors offer a variety of pre-designed templates such as ones tailored for:
- Pediatric anesthesia
- Anesthesia for obstetrics
- Pre-operative medicine
- Cardiac anesthesia
- Side effects
- Possible health complications
While selecting an anesthesiology 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.
The South Florida Regional Extension Center (SFREC) was formed under the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act’s Health Information Technology Extension Program as part of a nationwide effort to aid physicians in adopting health information technology (HIT). This Regional Extension Center can educate physicians on electronic health record (EHR) systems and help them implement these systems. This will allow physicians to better their practice and the care given to patients.
It is a challenging and long process for physicians to select a useful EHR software for their practice because of the vast number of EHR vendors and the complexity of different types of software available to them. However, achieving meaningful use of EHR systems starts with the purchase of certified EHR software. Therefore, the South Florida Regional Extension Center was formed to help streamline the selection process and aid physicians in South Florida in the EHR software implementation process. This Regional Extension Center is also supportive of the development and growth of Health Information Exchanges.
Some Regional Extension Centers offer a list of preferred EHR vendors, which are selected from a group of EMR (electronic medical record) companies that are dedicated to the health information technology mission. These preferred EHR vendors offer physicians more meaningful use of EHR software. Additionally, the EHR vendors can offer discounted prices, group prices, and standardized terms and conditions to members of a Regional Extension Center to help these physicians quickly and smoothly adopt EHR software.
Below is a list of preferred EHR vendors recommended by the South Florida Regional Extension Center:
- Allscripts – MyWay
- Allscripts – Enterprise
- Allscripts – Professional
- Cerner – Powerchart
- Sajix – iHelix
- Vitera Healthcare
- IOS Health systems – Medios
- Waiting Room Solutions
- Office Ally – EHR 24/7
- Bizmatics – PrognoCIS
- eClinical Works
- Greenway – Prime Suite
- MedPlus – Care360