Due to the vast amount of electronic medical record (EMR) choices on the market, physicians may find it challenging to select appropriate EMR software for their practice. It is important to understand the basic criteria and features you should look for in a suitable neurology EMR for your practice. To find the right EMR for your neurology practice, you should look for software that is designed specifically for neurologists or a similar specialty. Neurology EMR software is customized to deal with the characteristics of treating disorders of the nervous system. Neurologists rely heavily on imaging tests to diagnose ailments in patients, so your EMR should be compatible with a wide variety of image types from different imaging equipment and software. Your EMR software should integrate with electronystagmography (ENG), positron emission tomography (PET), electroencephalography (EEG), computed tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), or other imaging equipment you have at your practice. The EMR software needs to be able to receive and analyze the large amounts of data that may be generated for each of your patients. Neurology also involves detailed reporting of what is observed in images. As such, neurology EMR software should facilitate note-taking either through handwriting recognition or touch screen keyboards on tablet computers, or transcription of verbal notes using integrated voice recognition software. Additionally, many of your patients may be suffering from time-sensitive or life-threatening conditions, so you should make sure that your neurology EMR has a robust alert system capable of providing the appropriate emergency notifications.
At the start of software evaluation process, you should evaluate potential neurology 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 neurologists in your practice.
- Systems Architecture: You can purchase neurology EMR software that is installed directly on your computer servers on-site at your practice (“client-server”) or neurology EMR software that is located in the “cloud” that you access via the Internet (“cloud-based” or software-as-a-service “SaaS”). Some neurologists 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 neurologists 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 neurology 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 Neurology 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 neurology practices.
Such features include:
- ICD/CPT codes specific to neurology
- Integration with MRI / CT equipment
- Integration with EEG / EMG equipment
- Ability to interface with ultrasound, transcranial doppler, polysomnography and other imaging equipment
- Drug dosage calculator
Neurology 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, neurology EMR vendors offer a variety of pre-designed templates such as ones tailored for:
- Multiple sclerosis
- Cervical spine disorders
- Traumatic brain injuries
While selecting a neurology 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.