How to Choose Urgent Care EMR Software
How to Choose Urgent Care EMR Software
With hundreds of electronic medical record (EMR) software choices, doctors may find it a challenge to select the appropriate software for their practice. To start your search for a suitable urgent care EMR system for your practice, you should first get familiar with important criteria and software features that will help you during your search. To find the right EMR for your urgent care practice, you should look for software that is designed specifically for urgent care doctors or a similar specialty. This type of system will help your practice because EMR software for urgent care practices is customized to deal with the characteristics of treating acute conditions. Urgent care physicians work in a fast-paced, highly dynamic environment. As such, EMR software made for urgent care clinics and emergency medical facilities is designed to expedite patient check-in integrate smoothly into your workflow. As an urgent care doctor, you frequently have to draw from multiple specialties as you work to diagnose and treat the wide variety of patients you encounter. Likewise, urgent care EMR software draws its functionality from EMR systems made for other specialties. For example, like software systems for primary care practices, your EMR should be capable of charting multiple conditions at the same time. It should also be able to integrate with X-ray, EKGs, Holter monitors and other devices, as well as be capable of receiving and analyzing any lab data that may be generated for each patient. Many of your patients may be suffering from time-sensitive or potentially life-threatening conditions, so you should make sure that your urgent care EMR has a robust alert system capable of providing the appropriate emergency notifications. Additionally, urgent care doctors often refer patients to specialists, so more and more urgent care EMRs have automated referral systems making the process more efficient and easier to track.
At the start of software evaluation process, you should evaluate potential urgent care EMR based on the following criteria:
- Practice Size:Some software is better suited to small urgent care centers, 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 urgent care doctors 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 urgent care physicians 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 urgent care 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 urgent care 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:
- EMR / EHR Government Meaningful Use Incentives Information
- EMR Deadline; Will I be Assessed Penalties for Not Using an EMR System?
Unique Features of Urgent Care EMR SystemsOnce you have narrowed down your EMR choices based on practice size, systems architecture, and certification, you can evaluate certain features that are unique to urgent care facilities. Such features include:
- ICD/CPT codes specific to urgent care
- Integration with Holter, EKG, X-ray, and other diagnostic equipment
- Referral tracking
- Ability to evaluate multiple conditions/complaints
- Capability of automating patient correspondence
- Bubble sheet intake forms
- Workers compensation templates / reports
Pre-designed Templates of Urgent Care EMR SoftwareUrgent care 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, urgent care EMR vendors offer a variety of pre-designed templates such as ones tailored for:
- Physical exams
- Work accident