With hundreds of EMR choices on the market, doctors may find it a challenge to select the appropriate software for their practice. However, understanding what to search for in an EMR system for your cardiology practice will make the process a lot simpler, which is what this guide is here to do. First, to find the right EMR for your cardiology practice, you should look for software that is designed specifically for cardiologists or a similar specialty. This is because cardiology EMR software is customized to deal with the unique characteristics of treating heart conditions. Cardiologists rely heavily on medical devices to help monitor and detect abnormalities of the heart so your software choice should be able to integrate with ECG, ECHO, Spirometers, and other devices. Cardiology also involves many lab and imaging tests, so your EMR should able to receive and analyze the large amounts of data for each patient. Additionally, many of your patients may be suffering from time-sensitive or life-threatening conditions, so you should make sure that your cardiology EMR software has a robust alert system capable of providing the appropriate emergency notifications.
At the start of software evaluation process, you should evaluate potential cardiology EHR 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 EMR software you select is appropriate for the number of cardiologists in your practice.
- Systems Architecture: You can purchase cardiology EMR software that is installed directly on your computer servers on-site at your practice (“client-server”) or EMR software that is located in the “cloud” that you access via the Internet (“cloud-based” or software-as-a-service “SaaS”). Some cardiologists prefer client-server based 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 cardiologists 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 cardiology 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:
Unique Features of Cardiology 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 cardiology practices.
Such features include:
- ICD/CPT codes specific to cardiology
- Integration with ECG/EKG, ECHO, Holter, and X-ray/MRI equipment
- Ability to integrate with cardiac catheterization equipment, including maintenance of high quality video documenting procedures performed
- Built-in interface with labs (LabCorp, Quest, etc.)
- Analysis of pacemaker data
- Coumadin Flowsheets
Pre-designed Templates of Cardiology EMR software
Cardiology 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, cardiology EMR vendors offer a variety of pre-designed templates such as ones tailored for:
- Pacemaker visits
- Warfarin interaction alerts
- Cardiology SOAP notes
- Carotid ultrasound
- Cardiac cath
- Exercise stress tests
While selecting a cardiology EMR software 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.