With hundreds of electronic medical record (EMR) choices on the market, physicians may find it challenging to select the appropriate software for their practice. Knowing the basic criteria and what features to search for in an EMR software is the initial step towards finding suitable software for your OB/GYN practice. In order to maximize your chances of finding the right EMR for your obstetrics and gynecology (OB/GYN) practice, you should look for software that is designed specifically for obstetrics and gynecology, or a similar specialty. OB/GYN EMR software is customized to deal with the unique characteristics of treating conditions of the female reproductive organs. OB/GYN doctors treat a diverse group of patients – from girls just starting puberty to mature women who have already undergone menopause; from women suffering from chronic conditions to those with acute medical issues; and pregnant women. As such, your EMR should be flexible enough to deal with a variety of patient types. Obstetrics and gynecology relies heavily on ultrasounds to help monitor and detect abnormalities of the reproductive system, as well as track pregnancy, so your software choice should be able to integrate with ultrasound devices and software. In addition to interfacing with ultrasounds, your OB/GYN EMR software should be able to track perinatal testing and the baby’s progress. This includes compiling data on the baby’s blood pressure, fetal heart rate, weight gain, and glucose levels, and alerting the physician to any potential concerns.
At the start of software evaluation process, you should evaluate potential dermatology 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 dermatologists in your practice.
- Systems Architecture: You can purchase dermatology EMR software that is installed directly on your computer servers on-site at your practice (“client-server”) or dermatology EMR software that is located in the “cloud” that you access via the Internet (“cloud-based” or software-as-a-service “SaaS”). Some dermatologists 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 dermatologists 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 dermatology EMR software, 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 Obstetrics and Gynecology 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 an OB/GYN practice.
Such features include:
- ICD/CPT codes specific to OB/GYN
- Compatibility with ultrasound equipment and software
- Fetal monitoring
- Ability to estimate the due date of pregnant patients
- Built-in interface with labs (LabCorp, Quest, etc.)
- Information on genetic abnormalities
OB/GYN 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, OB/GYN EMR vendors offer a variety of pre-designed templates such as ones tailored for:
- Breast cancer
- Urinary tract infections (UTI)
- Gynecologic oncology
- Screening for STDs
- Postpartum depression
- Sexual dysfunction
While selecting a OB/GYN 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 obstetrics and gynecology can help you make the right choice for your practice.