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What is an EMR?

By 7 April 2024April 26th, 2024No Comments
emr electronic medical record system

What Is EMR, Its Benefits, and Its Role In Your Healthcare Facility?

Healthcare organizations like hospitals and clinics save lives every day. No organization takes lives into its hands as literally as healthcare organizations. So, in a way, healthcare organizations are still ignoring the need for an EMR or not even bothering to ask what EMR is potentially risking life itself.

emr electronic medical record system

The EMR system is a piece of software that could potentially revamp how a healthcare organization works and streamline its operations. But how does a software solution create such an impact on medical practices and other such organizations?

That's a natural question for any rational person, and the answer to that question is just a few seconds away. Here, we look at what is EMR- its benefits, and how healthcare organizations can efficiently use them. 

What Is EMR?

EMR, short for Electronic Medical Record, is a digital version of a patient's medical chart maintained by the healthcare provider. You can find every detail you would typically find in a paper chart in the EMR too. The EMR healthcare data include medical information of the patient, such as

  • Medical history
  • Diagnoses
  • Medications
  • Allergies
  • Lab/test results
  • Doctor's consultation notes, etc.

It makes more sense to consider the medical EMR as an online medical record containing all medical data from the healthcare provider. Like a paper medical chart, medical service providers also use the EMR solution to diagnose and treat patients.

The medical EMR solution provides physicians with comprehensive documentation of their patient's health. It means the physician goes through various information like medical history and test results required for an accurate diagnosis. With all the information and an accurate diagnosis, they can administer the appropriate care to the patient.

Considering all that it is capable of, it is not fair to say that the medical EMR is a substitute for paper medical records. EMR solutions change the entire landscape of healthcare service from the moment a person registers themselves as a patient.

It ensures efficient communication between the healthcare team, including everyone from the front desk to the pharmacist. The EMR healthcare process helps everyone in the healthcare team because it makes their jobs more manageable and less prone to errors.

Meaningful Use of EMR Systems

According to the American Recovery And Reinvestment Act, all healthcare providers, whether private or public, had to show meaningful use of EMR. The act was issued way back in 2014. Since then, a medical EMR has become a necessity for healthcare providers.

But what do they mean by meaningful EMR?

The truth is that most healthcare providers were already using some form of electronic medical records even before it was mandatory. It is here that the meaningful part of the medical EMR comes in.

You can't simply copy all the data from your healthcare facility's patient records from paper to digital format and call it a meaningful EMR. HealthIT.gov had to spell it out, saying that your EMR system is only of “meaningful use” if it satisfies the following conditions.

  • It must improve the safety, efficiency, and quality of healthcare services.
  • The EMR solution must reduce health disparities.
  • It must engage with patients and their families.
  • The EMR solution must improve public health and healthcare coordination.
  • It must ensure the security and privacy of the patient's sensitive health data.

Modern-day EMR systems achieve all of the above and go beyond it. However, daily improvements make EMR solutions even more refined. As a result, EMR is becoming more accessible and easier to use daily.

As a result, we are seeing significantly smoother medical care workflows with better-quality patient-doctor interactions.

Why Is An EMR System Always Better Than Paper Records?

Paper records are becoming obsolete in almost every aspect of everyday life. It does not take a medical record expert to figure out that an EMR system is better than keeping paper records. EMR data does not get misplaced, and it is significantly easier to store and access. 

There is practically no need for physical space to keep the records. But you already know all this stuff. So, let's focus on some unique aspects of using EMR medical records for your healthcare facility. Here are some things you can get by using EMR for your organization.

Collect And Study Demographic Data From Patients

You can use paper records to collect data from patients. But, there is no way for you to collect and use demographic data. The only way for you is to shuffle through never-ending paperwork to sort and categorize, which can take months or even years of work. You can do this in minutes using a medical EMR solution.

Document Treatment History And Treatment Responses  

Documenting every instance of patient encounter on paper records often leads to confusion. People find out they have two or more charts in a single healthcare organization. Such issues are common with paper-oriented medical records, which EMR hospital records can avoid.

Moreover, the medical EMR can accurately track patients' treatment history, including their response to treatment. There is no need to go through multiple folders because all the data is available in a single place.

Identify Routine Care And Preventive Service Patients 

Not every patient is the same. While a more significant number of people only have to visit a doctor once in a blue moon, others are not so fortunate to do so. Depending on the nature of the health problem, some patients may require routine care or preventive services. 

The EMR system is of great help in identifying such patients and providing the necessary care for them. Doing the same with paper medical records is next to impossible. With an EMR solution, you can schedule appointments and create healthcare routines depending on the patient's health condition. 

Monitor And Enhance The Overall Quality Of Healthcare

You can only do minimal things with paper healthcare records. Generating insightful data is not one of them. The medical EMR,  on the other hand, can access data you can use for monitoring and enhancing the quality of healthcare services. 

The functionality of a paper is pretty simple and one-tracked – store data. That's about it. There are no what ifs or you could with healthcare data on paper. All of the above features of functionalities are only accessible to you if you are using a medical EMR for your practice.

What Is An EMR System?

You can think of an EMR system as a system that gives your healthcare organization access to extensive functionalities. It is a central hub for all activities related to your healthcare practice. In other words, every day-to-day operation of your medical practice comes under the system's purview.

You can use the EMR systems to streamline the day-to-day operations of your organization, such as

  • Payment processing
  • Patient appointment scheduling
  • Health insurance claims
  • Healthcare information sharing within the organization
  • Adding new patients
  • To meet ICD-10 requirements
  • HIPAA-compliance check
  • For ensuring meaningful use of healthcare information
  • And more.

In short, every step you make within the healthcare organization comes under the EMR solution. Implementing EMR systems can vary significantly depending on the medical practice and its needs.

By “needs” of the medical practice, we mean aspects like customization requirements, EMR software staff availability, and clinic staff. As you can see, implementing an EMR system for your medical practice is no joke. It takes a dedicated specialist for the implementation, who will then explain the whole project to you.

Tools And Solutions In EMR Systems

It is also worth noting that several solutions and tools come together to form the EMR system, which includes the following.

  • EMR software
  • E-prescription solution
  • Practice Management software
  • Telemedicine
  • Lab and clearing house interfaces
  • Patient portals
  • Workflow tools
  • Dashboards
  • Etc. 

To have a fully functional EMR system, all of these solutions and tools work seamlessly. It is no easy task, but you can significantly improve your healthcare services and minimize medical costs after this. 

Niche-Specific EMR Systems 

As we discussed above, EMR systems can fit the needs of specific medical practice workflows and processes. Depending on the medical specialty of practice, its workflow and procedures can vary significantly. 

A pediatric clinic may have a significantly different workflow than a cardiology specialty clinic. You can't possibly use the same EMR system for both of these healthcare service providers. It is why you need to consider using specialty/niche-specific EMRs.

Consider this if you still have trouble wrapping your head around the need for niche-specific EMR systems. EMRs often use standard templates to simplify patient care. Considering the earlier example, what good will it do to ask about cardiology-related symptoms in a toddler?

And this is just a broad example. If you dive deeper into the differences, you will find even more complex issues with using a generic EMR system for specialty healthcare.

Also Read: EMR vs. EHR: Which Is the Better Option for Healthcare?

What Are The Benefits Of Using An EMR System?

At this point, you can already guess that EMR systems have a lot to offer to healthcare providers. But we can assure you that there is much more an EMR solution can accomplish for your business. For instance, you can use a direct mail automation solution like PostGrid with the EMR to automatically mail critical healthcare documents to your patients.

And that's just the tip of the iceberg. There is a lot more to go. Below, we discuss some of the significant benefits of EMR systems that you should know.

Save Space

The most obvious benefit of using an EMR system is that it eliminates the need for femoral records. And if there are no paper records, there is no need for large spaces for storing the never-ending medical records for your healthcare organization.

Managing the medical records of a healthcare organization is a complex task. As the size of the organization and its operations increases, managing its health records becomes increasingly difficult. With a medical EMR, things are much simpler, and you don't have to have entire rooms dedicated to storing healthcare data.

Workflow Optimization

With an EMR Electronic Medical Record, you can optimize the overall workflow of your healthcare organization. The internal operations of a hospital or clinic often get interrupted because medical records don't travel fast enough between the different departments.

An EMR hospital communication eliminates any such problems. It ensures an optimized workflow within your organization, as there are no longer paper medical records that cause interruptions. As a result, medical service providers can admit or serve more patients daily.

Minimize Difficulties In Healthcare Administration

Healthcare has one of the most complex administrative processes in any organization. There are numerous departments in a single healthcare organization, and they all need to work together to serve the patient efficiently. An EMR system can bridge the gap between your internal departments and streamline their communication.

For instance, the doctor can't prescribe the appropriate medication if they are still waiting for a significant test result. It could hold up your healthcare service and cause unnecessary delays for your healthcare organization and its patients. With an EMR system, the patient's health-related information is stored and accessed digitally.

Hence, EMR systems ensure no delay in conveying or transferring healthcare information within the organization. As a result, you can minimize the administrative difficulties caused by EMR and decrease your operational costs.

Provides Easy Interface With Healthcare Entities

Before, the interface with healthcare entities like hospitals, clinics, medical labs, and other state health systems was not easy. Thanks to medical EMR, patients now have an easy interface to communicate with healthcare entities.

Customizable And Scalable Healthcare Records

There is virtually no room for customization or scalability for healthcare records on paper. If you put the wrong detail in the patient's records, there is no means to amend it without a trace. With a medical EMR, you could correct directly to the patient records.

EMR also ensures superior scalability of your electronic healthcare records. Even if your medical organization grows exponentially, you can still use the EMR system to maintain your patient data. Your patient records can never be as customizable or scalable if they are in printed format.

Collect And Analyze Patient Data

Collecting and analyzing patient data using an EMR hospital system is significantly easier. It is virtually impossible. According to the CDC, around 130 million people visit healthcare facilities annually. You can't possibly keep up with a data set that grows at an alarming rate like this.

Even if a healthcare organization handles 130 people, analyzing that data would still be a considerable task. With a medical EMR, analyzing patient data is much more straightforward and takes seconds to complete.

Automatic Alerts And Reminders

Another great benefit of using an EMR system for your medical practice is the automatic alerts and reminders. It lets your healthcare organization automatically send alerts and reminders to the patients.

For example, healthcare organizations use direct mail automation software like PostGrid to send appointment reminders to patients. Unlike a text message or email, postal mail rarely gets ignored. The advanced system even lets you schedule your mail. You can even customize your mail using the EMR hospital data.

You can use PostGrid's system for sending much more than appointment reminder postcards. It is HIPAA-compliant direct mail software that can automate the mailing of personalized healthcare documents. However, you still need an EMR system to access the patient data in digital format.

Enhanced Documentation and Coding

The medical EMR system is an elaborate documentation method to store and conveniently access patient data. You don't need us to spell out how big of an advantage an EMR solution can provide for your medical practice.

With an EMR Electronic Medical Record, you have a comprehensive database containing all patient data. You can use this database for marketing purposes (provided that the patient agrees) or personalize your communication with patients.

Retake PostGrid's example. It can easily personalize your bulk mail once you connect it with the relevant database. Similarly, you can get advanced coding capabilities that require access to your patient database. However, you should ensure that the software or service provider accessing your medical EMR data is HIPAA-compliant.

Built-In Safeguards Against Treatments

In the medical field, there are often situations when the patient needs protection against specific treatments because of adverse side effects. You can use the EMR system to safeguard against physicians prescribing such therapies. If a physician prescribes a medicine, the EMR solution can warn them against it and protect the patient.

Track Electronic Messages

The EMR system is the central point of all healthcare-related communication about a patient. You can use the EMR solution to track all the electronic messages that your staff, clinicians, and other healthcare team members. It serves as a history of the patient's health habits and helps healthcare providers with diagnosis and treatment.

Links To Public Health System

Another significant benefit of using a medical EMR for your business is that it can link easily to public health systems. You can connect directly with databases for contagious diseases and other healthcare registries. Doing so can significantly help you contribute to the improvement of the public health system.

What Are The Different Types Of EMR Systems?

You can classify the medial EMR solutions into five distinct categories: as follows.

  • Cloud-Based EMR 
  • Mac EMR 
  • ONC-Certified EMR
  • Behavioral/Mental Health EMR
  • Medical Billing EMR

Adopting an EMR solution for your medical practice is relatively easy for a medical facility, and you have a wide range of options. Below, we discuss the EMR solutions you can use in your medical facility. 

Cloud-Based EMR Systems

The cloud-based EMR systems are the most common type of EMR solution in healthcare organizations and for good reasons. Cloud-based solutions are always more convenient and secure than server-based systems. 50% of corporate companies store their data in the cloud, which should explain how well you can rely on it.

With a cloud-based EMR system, you can remotely access patients' healthcare information. A cloud-based EMR solution is also more affordable since no servers are required to host your data. Such systems also go by web-based EMR or Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) EMR.

Mac EMR Systems

Mac EMR systems are EMR solutions compatible with Apple's Mac devices. Several healthcare organizations run primarily or solely on mac devices. The Mac EMR solution is an excellent choice for such healthcare organizations. 

You also have the option to go for Mac-native EMR solutions. These solutions are specifically designed for the Mac operating system. Mac is already famous for its security, making it the perfect choice for an EMR system. 

If you do not want a Mac-native EMR system, you can always opt for a cloud or web-based EMR software. The web-based solutions can also run optimally on Mac devices as long as you have access to the internet.

ONC-Certified EMR Systems

ONC-certified EMR systems are software solutions that meet the standards or requirements of the ONC or Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology. The ONC requires efficient storage and management of the patient's sensitive data.

An EMR solution that claims to be ONC-certified doesn't make it accurate. So, ensure that ONC-authorized bodies test the EMR system you choose. These tests and corresponding certifications ensure that the EMR solution meets the required standards.

Some of the criteria ONC looks for in a medical EMR before providing them with the appropriate certification are as follows.

  • The EMR must include a patient portal.
  • The EMR must be able to create healthcare plans.
  • The EMR must ensure quality reporting methods.
  • And more.

Behavioral/Mental Health EMR Systems

A revolver is a dangerous and deadly weapon, but you can't use it to kill a fly. Similarly, you can't use the same medical EMR for behavioral/mental healthcare regardless of how strong an EMR solution you use. With EMR solutions, you get access to different features and capabilities.

Unsurprisingly, the features accessible via behavioral or mental health EMR Systems are specific to the needs of entities like

  • Therapists
  • Mental health clinics
  • Group clinics
  • Etc.

The way a therapist works is different from how a physician works. For instance, therapists often have to access their old notes. Retrieving these notes could be time-consuming and frustrating at times. The EMR system ensures it isn't and provides the therapist instant access to their needed medical notes.

Medical Billing EMR Systems

Medical billing EMR systems are the EMRs that are perfect for processing medical bills, patient statements, and insurance claims. Tasks like insurance claim processing can sometimes be unnervingly complex, and the EMR solution can make it significantly less complicated. 

The medical EMR can integrate seamlessly with your medical practice's administrative department. You can use the medical billing EMR solution to fully or partially automate several billing tasks for your healthcare organization.

Besides payment and insurance processing, you can use the EMR system for effective follow-ups, such as sending medical collection letters. You can use an automated solution like PostGrid to automatically send medical letters/documents and make administrative tasks easier for your organization.

How Can EMR Systems Benefit From Automation?

The medical EMR system is a life-saver for healthcare organizations of all sizes. But you can never tap into the full potential of EMR solutions if you don't incorporate automation into your EMR. Automation can benefit every aspect of your operational functions.

Optimize Healthcare Communication With PostGrid's Direct Mail Automation

One of the best examples of how automation can benefit your EMR hospital system is PostGrid's direct mail automation tool. With PostGrid, you can automate all your postal mail communications with your patients. 

It means PostGrid can print and mail crucial healthcare documents to your patients. PostGrid is also  HIPAA-compliant, so you do not need to worry about data security. With access to the data from medical EMR, PostGrid can also personalize your medical mailers. Here are some ways PostGrid's direct mail automation can benefit your medical practice.

  • Streamline your billing process by automating the printing and mailing of patient statements.
  • Draft or edit new medical letters or personalize them using letter template management.
  • Identify problems in your workflow and optimize them using workflow tracking and reporting.
  • Optimize healthcare bill processing and payments with electronic bill presentation and payment. 

Conclusion

The EMR system is a vital part of healthcare organizations and provides quality healthcare to patients. It is high time that every medical service provider realizes the significance of the EMR solution and how it can streamline their various operations.

It can effectively streamline the workflow of a medical service provider and enhance the quality of their patient care. You must integrate automation capabilities into EMR to get the most out of the EMR system and enjoy its full benefits.

Automated solutions like PostGrid and medical EMRs make healthcare communication effortless. It allows you to fully automate your healthcare mail communication and send personalized medical letters/documents to patients effortlessly.

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