Electronic Health Record (EHR) integration is extremely relevant in today’s modern world, with all practice management being conducted via software. As your patient management and treatment relies on your patient information, EHR integration is a big factor when determining the best practice management solution to use and is a key component of ensuring personal health information (PHI) is kept safe.
To help you understand what electronic medical records (EMR) is and why it’s so important to your practice, we explain what EHR integration is, as well as show you how it will help you acquire new patients, help you retain existing patients, enhance the patient experience, and drastically improve your patient management and processing.
In this article, we will be learning about the relevance of EHR integration and how it could work with your practice management software to provide your patients a truly digital healthcare experience.
- What is EHR integration?
- What does EHR integration achieve?
- Why EHR integration is so important for your practice management solution
- 7 Common EHR integration challenges
- 6 best EHR integration software for practice management
Let us begin by understanding what an EHR integration is before moving on to its importance, potential challenges, and some of the key players that dominate this market.
What is EHR integration?
Electronic Health Records (EHR) integration is the process of enabling medical records to seamlessly be accessed across electronic software solutions. For practice management, this means medical records such as personal information, medical history, and more can be accessed easily across solutions.
For practitioners, EHR integration enhances practice management by providing easy access to medical and dental records. This improves the doctor and dentist’s ability to diagnose and treat effectively, as their patients’ information is available wherever they need it. Patients can also enter personal information electronically, with this information automatically going into your records, which is great for onboarding faster and more effectively.
EHR and EMR integration are used almost interchangeably, as Electronic Health Records (EHR) and Electronic Medical Records (EMR) refer to the same thing.
What does EHR integration achieve?
The main purpose of getting an EHR integration is to provide patient-centered healthcare that is efficient and secure. With an EHR integration, doctors can seamlessly share patient healthcare data from one electronic system to another, which enables clear communication and no loss in data.
This also gives you the ability to perform tasks not supported by your traditional EHR system, such as real-time online scheduling. Whether your hospital or lab needs to communicate your results to your doctor or you are moving from one practice to another, details such as patient demographics, medical history, medications, allergies, and lab results are transferred using an EHR integration.
If your practice is considering an EHR integration, here are some of the tangible benefits that you can achieve in the process:
- Enables seamless storage, management, and transfer of electronic health records (EHR) between medical professionals
- Streamline and synthesize administrative and clinical workflows for greater efficiency
- Real-time access to validated, up-to-date patient data with no lag
- Simplifies scheduling by providing relevant patient information at the time of scheduling
- Electronic patient data integration allows you to go paperless, letting you use digital patient intake forms, feedback forms, and survey forms to collect patient information
All of these enhance both the clinical and administrative practice management for your medical or dental practice, empowering you to offer patients better treatment, care, and satisfaction.
Why EHR integration is so important for your practice management solution
EHR integration brings forward and leverages data and insights from digital health tools to provide relevant information, alerts to threats and opportunities, and financial and operational guidance at the point of care. This fosters a more open doctor-patient relationship, thereby increasing patient engagement and loyalty towards your practice.
Below, we cover the top 6 reasons why it’s essential to have a practice management solution with EHR integration:
1. PHI is safe and secure
Once you have a HIPAA-compliant integrated EHR system that is equipped with all the measures in place to keep your patient data safe from potential cyber-attacks, your mind can rest at ease. If you are moving from a paper-based system to an EHR solution, then you can rest assured that your patient data is safe in the case of an unexpected and unfortunate event such as theft, fire, or a natural calamity.
2. PHI can be accessed at any time by authorized users
Being able to access your patient data at any time from any device can contribute to more coordinated and efficient care. Whether the dentist is accessing medical history information for treatment or administrators are accessing personal information to schedule follow-up treatment, everyone has access to up-to-date, accurate patient information.
3. Better healthcare outcomes
Once your patients’ data is easily accessible and available on one platform, as a doctor or dentist, you can offer an effective diagnosis and sound judgment on the problem, as you have all the facts right in front of you. An EHR-integrated system also enables a safer and more reliable way of writing prescriptions.
4. Easing clinical workflow
Having all your patient information on one platform can promote a seamless clinical experience and expedite communication about care plans. Medical and dental professionals can offer patients a streamlined experience including collecting, assessing, and transferring sensitive patient data.
5. Employee efficiency
EHR integration allows you to automate most administrative functions that take up time, leaving the staff and the healthcare professionals to focus on providing good care for their patients and growing their practice.
6. Higher patient engagement
When patients have access to their health records from the comfort of their home and device, they feel more invested and interested in their health, as it helps reduce anxiety and they don’t have to wait until they see their doctor. This leads to higher engagement as the patients are more in control of managing their care.
7 Common EHR integration challenges
Integrating electronic health records with your current practice management software cannot be done overnight and may also be met with a lot of resistance. It takes a lot of planning and getting used to by your staff. Here are some of the challenges that your practice might face:
1. Compatibility with the current system
Interoperability of practice management solutions with EHR systems is extremely critical in order to get a complete picture of patients’ health. Since most practices use multiple systems for different functionalities, getting an EHR system that works with all of them will be the biggest challenge and a reason for resistance.
Solution: An all-in-one software like NexHealth could be the answer that your practice is looking for. Since NexHealth is compatible with all the top dental softwares such as Eaglesoft, Curve Dental, Dentrix, OpenDental among others, it ensures that you can manage patients efficiently without compromising on the EHR solution of your choice.
2. Staff adoption resistance
Staff members' level of familiarity and interest in technology varies by different degrees, making it difficult to get everyone on board when introducing a new software system. Your staff may have a certain way of doing things that they are used to even if it is more time-consuming. They may also feel threatened or feel like their job is in danger, as effective practice management systems are meant to automate many tedious tasks.
Solution: With the help of NexHealth, your staff can automate tasks like scheduling, payments, and waitlists, so that they can learn to use marketing tools to help bring in more revenue and grow the practice. Rather than replacing administrative staff, it empowers them to save time and spend more time developing ways to attract, retain, and impress patients.
EHR implementation can be expensive, costing practices between $15,000 - $70,000 per provider. While this is a fixed cost that may well take a large portion of your annual budget, it is essential to give your practice a digital uplift. Since health care practices have multiple softwares that they use to track and analyze PHI, schedule appointments, and manage treatment, interoperability is extremely important.
Solution: NexHealth’s bidirectional interface integrates with all of the major EHR platforms and eliminates the need for manual data entry. It automates all your patient communication from one easy to manage place.
Practices that are thinking of switching or considering integrating an EHR system are most concerned about how quickly their staff will get proficient at using it. Getting a dedicated team member that can hand-hold the staff through the transition, provide on-demand training on any topics that they are having issues with, and provide free resources that help the practice utilize the system to its full potential is what practices want.
Solution: With a comprehensive resource page and customer support, NexHealth promises to have the answer to all your questions. You can browse through the several categories to find what you are looking for or simply contact NexHealth’s customer support team.
5. Data privacy
Data privacy is a major concern when it comes to EHR implementation, as practices are storing sensitive and personal patient information. In a HIPAA journal study, it was found that in 2020 there were more than 29 million healthcare records that were breached. While evaluating the EHR integration in question, it is always important to understand how secure the software is to protect your patients’ health data.
Solution: Choosing a cloud-based platform that is HIPAA-compliant, like NexHealth, can ensure strict governance of your data and will restrict access of your patient’s data to the concerned parties.
6. Data migration
If your practice is considering moving from a paper-based system to an EHR-integrated software, then the thought of the tedious task of data migration may already be giving you nightmares. As a one-time process for the office, it will be far worth this cost in increased efficiency and practice output.
Data migration also requires proper planning and time as it could take a few weeks and may temporarily deny access to other stakeholders. Most importantly, data loss in this transition phase can leave your practice vulnerable, and cause you to lose your reputation with your existing patients.
Solution: Choosing software that provides customer support with your data migration is key. Your staff may need guidance on how to proceed in the best way possible to complete the task in the least amount of time and without errors.
7. Change management
With the introduction of a new system, there is likely to be some teething issues that could lead to frustration and hesitation. The process of an EHR implementation is more than just a technology upgrade, it will bring about a culture change in your practice. Getting everyone on the same page and educating them about how the software can reduce their workload can be a great motivating factor for the team to implement it.
Solution: With the right resources, communication among team members, and planning, EHR-integrated systems can be successfully implemented to work the way the practice intended to use it.
6 best EHR-integrated software for practice management
If you are in the market to evaluate the best EHR integration software for your practice management software, then the following list could give you an insight into what is available and if it suits your practice’s needs.
Cost: Contact for quote
Best for: EHR-integrated, real-time, online scheduling, patient communication, and digital paperwork
NexHealth is a trusted name in the healthcare technology industry as a patient experience software that helps practices acquire and retain their patients. NexHealth allows practices to easily integrate with a plethora of EHR systems with just one API, reducing the time that it takes to build a product from 18 months to just 6 weeks.
Cost: Contact for quote
Best for: EHR system is available for access from multiple devices
Athenahealth is an easy-to-use EHR system that fits small and medium-sized practices that may not have dedicated technical personnel to install complex software. This cloud-based healthcare software is packed with features and works for practices where multiple devices are used to make entries.
Cost: $449 - $599/mo
Best for: Understanding disease patterns to accurately assess risks and provide better diagnoses
eClinicWorks is an all-encompassing healthcare tool that supports features like EHR, telehealth, patient engagement, revenue cycle management among others. With the help of eClinicWorks’ virtual assistant ‘Eva’, you will never feel disconnected.
Cost: Contact for quote
Best for: Focus on ambulatory care providers of all sizes and communities by increasing productivity to improve financial outcomes and the ease of information exchange
NextGen Healthcare offers a line of products such as EHR, health information exchange, revenue cycle management for multi and single-specialty hospitals, and small practices. With the aim to empower patients to take control of their health, NextGen Healthcare also enables practitioners to be more engaged and productive.
Cost: Contact for quote
Best for: Manage patient flow to ePrescribe with ease
CareCloud provides a comprehensive solution for EHR integration, practice management, revenue cycle management, and patient experience management that is aimed to provide better clinical, financial, and operational outcomes. CareCloud Charts also provide real-time intelligence at the point of care to support critical decision-making capabilities like identifying the right course of treatment for your patients.
Cost: $39 - $91/mo
Best for: Managed Billing feature allows practices to outsource the insurance claims cycle to a dedicated billing specialist to get paid faster
TheraNext is a HIPAA-compliant tool that allows your practice to go paperless and manage client charts, diagnosis, and treatment history electronically. Practitioners can also take advantage of the unlimited notes templates that are available for use for individual and group therapy.
Get seamless integration with your EHR systems using NexHealth
As you can see, EHR integration is an essential component – and will be a main deciding factor – of any practice management solution you choose. NexHealth’s solution has an unparalleled number of partner solutions, ensuring that it will work with the EHR solution you already use (or plan on using). Auto-syncs occur every 30 seconds, which is faster than any other players on the market.