With hundreds of electronic medical record (EMR) choices currently on the market, physicians may find it a challenge to select suitable EMR software for their practice. Therefore, it is important to start your search with certain criteria in mind and with a list of software features to be aware of, in order to find appropriate pediatric EMR for your practice. To find the right EMR for your pediatric practice, you should look for software that is designed specifically for pediatricians or a similar specialty. This type of system will benefit your practice because pediatric EMR software is customized to deal with the unique characteristics of treating young patients in a primary care setting. As a pediatrician, you need to be a jack of all trades, often drawing from multiple specialties as you foster long-term relationships with your patients. You rely on tests performed by other specialists or technicians, so pediatric EMR software should ideally be able to receive and analyze the large amounts of data that may be generated for each patient, even if from different diagnostic equipment or software. Pediatricians often refer patients to specialists, so more and more pediatric EMRs have automated referral systems making the process more efficient and easier to track. Your EMR should also be customized to deal with the large volume, quick turnover, last-minute-appointment nature of a pediatric practice. Often your patients will suffer from multiple, disparate conditions, so pediatric EMR software should be capable of charting multiple conditions at the same time. Other factors to be aware of include the need to protect highly-sensitive child information, and provide reports to schools and other institutions;and the ability to track immunization records, and send patient reminders and other correspondence automatically.
At the start of software evaluation process, you should evaluate potential pediatric 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 pediatricians in your practice.
- Systems Architecture: You can purchase pediatric EMR software that is installed directly on your computer servers on-site at your practice (“client-server”) or pediatric EMR software that is located in the “cloud” that you access via the Internet (“cloud-based” or software-as-a-service “SaaS”). Some pediatricians 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 pediatricians 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 pediatric 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 Pediatric EMR
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 pediatric practices.
Such features include:
- ICD/CPT codes specific to pediatrics
- Integration with EKG, X-ray, and other diagnostic equipment
- Vaccination tracking and reporting
- Ability to evaluate multiple conditions/complaints
- Capability of automating patient correspondence
- Reporting mechanism for child abuse
- Behavioral health tools
Pre-designed Templates of Pediatric EMR
Pediatric 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, pediatric EMR vendors offer a variety of pre-designed templates such as ones tailored for:
- Annual physical exams
- Health and wellness reminders
- Growth charts
- Food allergy
- Psychiatric (ADD/ADHD, Autism, etc.)
- State-mandated forms
While selecting a pediatric 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.