With the vast number of EMR choices available, it may be a challenge for physicians to select the appropriate software for their practice. To make this process easier, you should understand what criteria to use and what features to be aware of when choosing pain management EMR systems for your practice. To find the right EMR for your pain management practice, you should look for software that is specifically designed for pain management doctors or a similar specialty. Pain management EMR software is customized to deal with the unique characteristics of treating pain, so this type of software will greatly benefit your practice. Pain management is a relatively new field that is practiced within several different settings- hospital-based pain management, office-based chronic pain management, acute pain management, chronic interventional pain management, and multi-speciality pain management. EMR software for this specialty must be flexible enough to fit all these styles of pain management. Managing pain typically involves developing and tracking ongoing therapeutic regimens for each patient, so your EMR solution should be able to track a patient’s progress from visit to visit, and possibly interface with mobile devices or tablets. A good pain management EMR software will also have a thorough pain management drug database to facilitate the dosing and ordering of drugs, as well as electronic prescribing and documenting of all drugs. One additional feature you may want to consider is an automated referral system as most pain management patients come from 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 pain management EMRs 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 pain management physicians in your practice.
- Systems Architecture: You can purchase 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 pain doctors 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 pain management doctors choose cloud-based 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 pain management 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 Pain Management 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 pain management practices.
Such features include:
- ICD/CPT codes specific to pain management
- Referral tracking
- Structured pain screening
- Ability to evaluate multiple conditions/complaints
- Capability of automating patient correspondence
Pre-designed Templates of Pain Management EMR
Pain management 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, pain management EMR vendors offer a variety of pre-designed templates such as ones tailored for:
- Joint pain
- Back pain
- Nerve blocks
- Chronic headaches
- Infusion pump replacements
- Botulinum injections
While selecting a pain management 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.