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Best EMR Systems

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In the fight to stay organized, healthcare professionals have an uphill battle.

Billing is more complicated than the human genome.

Government regulations add extra steps to every task.

Decisions are time-sensitive.

Small mistakes can have serious consequences.

On top of all of this, everyone’s busy. There’s no extra time to search for a patient record or reorder an incorrect prescription.

The best electronic medical records (EMR) systems can simplify a lot of the complex challenges today’s providers face.

They are not a silver bullet by any means, but finding a product that works for your practice will make you more efficient today and better prepared for tomorrow.

Here are the top EMR systems that are helping practices improve care, reduce burnout, and make every day less stressful for everyone who walks in the door.

The Top Four Options for EMR Systems

  1. CareCloud – Best for growing specialty practices
  2. athenahealth – Best for switching to a new system
  3. SimplePractice – Best for health and wellness providers
  4. Kareo – Best for independent practices

The Different Types of EMR Systems

Not so long ago, EMR systems were the tool for turning paper charts into digital resources. They made patient data easier to access and track.

People still need these functions, but today you are going to see very few standalone EMR systems. Instead, you will find EMR systems will come as part of a larger electronic health records (EHR) system.

EMR vs EHR Systems

Here’s the key difference between the two:

  • Electronic medical records are a digitized version of a patient’s chart.
  • Electronic health records include information from all doctors involved with a patient’s care.

With EMR systems, people within the organization could access a patient’s chart. With EHR systems, on the other hand, medical records can be shared between multiple providers, labs, and insurers.

This ability to share complete EHRs is critical in today’s healthcare environment. 

You may already know the reasons why EMR systems are being phased out in favor of EHRs. I’m not going to go in-depth here, though you can certainly read about it if digging into healthcare legislation blows your hair back (see specifically the HITECH Act).

Suffice it to say, new laws and changes in technology have made EHR systems essential.

This can be confusing though. 

Many providers still need to digitize and organize the work of their office. EMR systems are perfect for that, and so there’s still a lot of online search for the term.

And because people are asking the internet for EMR systems, you’ll see vendors offering “EMR systems” and directing you to their EHR, or calling their products EMR/EHR solutions.

Some vendors seem to use EHR and EMR interchangeably. Likely, they will continue to do so as long as people are searching for EMRs.

For all the haziness and craziness of the situation, providers who need an EMR system today are really just looking at two major product categories:

  1. EHR systems
  2. Practice management suites

Let’s go through both of these so you can figure out which one is going to help you get your practice to where it needs to be.

I’m still going to talk about EMR systems, but just know that it is going to come as part of a solution with a different name.

Electronic Health Records Systems

EHR systems include everything providers need from traditional EMR systems to take their practice online. They can digitize charts, connect them to schedules, and keep each patient visit as efficient as possible.

For practices looking to go paperless, these products can be extremely helpful. They will help you turn file cabinets into searchable digital drives. This saves so much time for doctors, nurses, and staff who can quickly access everything they need from any device.

In addition to tracking patient records, EHR systems help with:

  • Billing
  • Insurance
  • E-prescribing
  • Lab work and tests

In this sense, an EHR “follows the patient,” giving all parties involved with a patient’s care the information they need to keep the process moving forward.

Most often, you will find EHR software offered as one part of a complete array of tools for managing a practice. Vendors like Kareo and athenahealth offer stand-alone EHR systems, which can be a great starting point for making the transition online.

Practice Management Suites

A practice management suite is designed to centralize all of the administrative, clinical, financial, and legal processes within a single platform.

In addition to EMR/EHR capabilities, they include:

  • Advanced reporting
  • Patient engagement
  • Revenue cycle management
  • Telehealth

As robust as these solutions are, they are not just for large organizations. In fact, these products work really well in the small practice setting. 

With limited staff, solo providers simply don’t have the time to manage 7 or 8 different tools to interact with each patient. Practice management suites are highly customizable, allowing providers to unify and trim down their workflow to its essential elements.

Small practices also benefit from the rich reporting features. 

Dashboards and data visualization tools help providers understand trends in clinical data. This can help practices decrease wait times, improve patient engagement, hit regulatory goals, and better manage risk.

How to Choose the Best EMR System for You

The right EMR system provides support for overburdened staff by streamlining critical administrative tasks.

The wrong EMR system can make things worse.

According to a study from the American Medical Association, the average family physician spends 86 minutes per day doing administrative tasks after they leave work.

This so-called “pajama time” has become an awful reality for every physician stuck using a well-intentioned but poorly-performing EMR system. 

And it’s not just doctors who are affected by this. Nurses, staff, pharmacists, and—most of all—patients suffer the consequences of inefficient systems.

Just knowing which solutions are popular is not enough. Sometimes a good system is implemented poorly or deployed in a place where it doesn’t fit.

So, how do you pick an EMR system that actually benefits employees and patients?

There’s no easy answer, but by following these three steps you can start to hone in on the right product.

Understand the features you really need

There are an astonishing number of features included with every EMR solution. Most individuals will never use the majority of them.

It’s not surprising, given that these systems are built to work for different types of doctors in a wide variety of clinical settings.

Go into your search with a list of must-have features and functionality. Every product is going to come with digitized charts and patient tracking, but what does that mean for your practice?

In other words, which system has the features that will help receptionists, nurses, doctors, and patients get from A to B? How will each set of features map to your actual patient flows?

A to B is an over-simplification, but also not. One of the most common complaints about EMR systems is that they take too long to accomplish routine tasks.

Ordering a prescription or procedure shouldn’t require scrolling through hundreds of irrelevant options. If a solution includes e-prescribing, ensure that it can be customized to actually save time.

The more A to B tasks your EMR system streamlines, the more time all staff have to spend engaging with patients.

Consider a specialty option

A welcome trend is the growing number of EMR systems tailor-made for specialty practices.

I like these because they solve two problems associated with traditional, general-use EMRs. 

One, providers get exactly the tools they need instead of a platform freighted with unnecessary features.

Two, each feature has the appropriate depth for the specialty in question. Laser settings are automatically recorded on charts for dermatologists. Orthopedic surgeons can share large-file imaging results with ease.

Instead of workflows and templates designed for the “textbook clinic,” these products meet the specific needs of today’s specialists.

Prepare for integration and implementation

It’s much easier to deploy an EMR system that integrates with the billing, imaging, and other platforms you use.

Some EMRs centralize those responsibilities within a single platform. If that’s the route you go, what’s it going to be like to move everything from multiple platforms?

The transition from paper to EMR or from one EMR to another is taxing under any circumstances. If the pieces of the puzzle don’t fit together, it can be even worse.

To make the best of a difficult challenge, find a vendor who is willing to help bring data from your existing platform to theirs as part of the deployment.

I definitely recommend reading reviews from actual customers about the kind of service they receive during and after implementation. If you are supposed to get a dedicated service rep, how dedicated are they?

It’s also not 100% on the vendor. What kind of in-house IT support will make everyone’s life easier? Under-budget for this at your own risk.

Upskilling a few “super-user” staff members who can fix issues on the spot will go a long way towards smoothing out the daily frustrations of moving to a new system.

#1 – CareCloud — Best for Growing Specialty Practices

CareCloud is a practice management suite that gives doctors more time to spend with their patients and more resources to invest in their practice. 

It unifies the tools providers need to manage every step of the patient relationship in their specific setting. Users can customize charts, reuse order sets, and share content with their colleagues.

The decision support features are quite advanced. This cuts down on the potential for medical errors by immediately flagging issues like dangerous drug combinations and dietary restrictions.

In addition to delivering real-time information at the point of care, quality chart data translates into rich reporting in CareCloud. 

Track the performance indicators that matter most, get an instant snapshot of where things stand, and keep an eye on how they evolve.

The EMR and revenue cycle management features work really well together. Providers can use what they discover to improve the quality of patient care and better steward a small practice over financial and regulatory hurdles.

One of the reasons CareCloud works so well is that they offer 24 specialty specific solutions. These deliver tremendous out-of-the-box functionality to providers who would otherwise be stuck configuring their system.

For pain management, physical therapy, podiatry, proctology, pulmonology—and that’s just the p’s—clinicians and physicians can get to work on CareCloud right away.

Some of the highlights of CareCloud include:

  • E-prescribing
  • Real-time patient flows
  • Patient portal
  • Drag-and-drop scheduling
  • Quality initiative reporting
  • Mobile app

In addition, they make a lot of additional tools available to speciality practices through their Content Store. Find solutions for insurance, billing, scheduling, and record-keeping that are built by other providers in your specific field.

You’ll have to get in touch with CareCloud for pricing, whether you want to use Charts—their EHR module—or the entire practice management platform.

It’s a great option for speciality practices that are looking to grow. CareCloud will streamline every process—from insurance to patient handoffs—because it has everything a specialist needs with none of the bloat.

#2 – athenahealth — Best for Switching to a New System

athenahealth consistently develops trusted healthcare software for hospital systems, small private practices, and everything in between. 

They offer a full practice management suite, athenaOne, which provides EHR, billing, patient engagement, population health, care coordination, and epocrates, a best-in-class mobile app.

Alternatively, providers can use athenaClinicals, the EHR component of athenaOne. Their products work well with many other options on the market, so practices don’t have to migrate all their systems at once.

This makes it a great option for practices that see EMR/EHR a key step in the gradual process of future-proofing their entire practice.

One of the biggest draws of athenaClinicals is how easy it is to navigate. It’s a really intelligent platform that is continually auto populating patient data and prioritizing important information. 

A lot of the platform’s recommendations come from trends it picks up on in your network, like routine processes and orders. If patients being seen for one treatment are often prescribed a certain medication, it will be right there without any search required.

Stop struggling with ever-changing procedure codes and insurance protocols. athenahealth monitors federal quality programs and makes best practices available immediately.

Some of the other standout features include:

  • Secure voice, text, and email reminders
  • Patient portal
  • Decision support
  • Rich reporting
  • Mobile app
  • App marketplace

Even though the user interface is great, there is a learning curve because the platform is so deep. In other words, the control that makes athenahealth such a great long-term solution requires a little getting used to in the short term.

I think it’s worth it, because it’s the last tool staff will ever have to learn.

The platform has proven itself capable of handling the most challenging healthcare IT environments.

Never switch again.

The cost of athenahealth’s integrated suite is based on a percentage of monthly collections. The idea is that they partner with your practice instead of locking you in a contract and charging for upgrades. 

They do well if you do well. Many companies report that the increased efficiency with billing and collections offsets the costs almost entirely, to say nothing of its impact across the practice.

athena’s customer support has a solid reputation and they have a lot of experience helping clients move their data over securely.

If you are stuck on paper or with a system that’s not getting it done, athenahealth will do what it takes to make you their next satisfied member.

#3 – SimplePractice — Best for Health and Wellness Providers

SimplePractice is an affordable practice management suite that’s delivering value to therapists, dieticians, social workers, and other providers in the mental health and wellness space.

It’s a great price for small clinics and private practices that want to centralize charts, notes, appointments, insurance, and billing in one intuitive platform.

There’s a patient portal, so both sides benefit from the accessibility. Clients can upload documents and even book their own appointments (on your terms, of course). 

Speaking of accessible, SimplePractice empowers providers to meet with their clients, regardless of where they are coming from, or ability to come in.

Every consultation can be managed securely online, thanks to features like paperless intakes, online booking, and HIPAA-compliant telehealth solutions.  

Not every community has the local resources in place to serve those who need care. And even when patients have a nearby office, taking time to come in for appointments can still pose problems.

SimplePractice can help providers stay in touch with clients, no matter how busy or far away they are.

It’s great for an entire practice, but focusing in on the EMR features, SimplePractice comes with:

  • Template library
  • Diagnosis and treatment plans
  • Searchable ICD-10 codes
  • Secure text messaging
  • Appointment reminders
  • Superbills
  • Mobile App

There’s also customizable patient intake forms and surveys, which allow providers to ask questions in the right way. They can be sensitive, specific, and leave enough room for people to share their thoughts.

They offer plans for solo practices starting at $39/month. 

Group practice rates start at $98/month for 2 clinicians. Each additional user costs $39/month.

Features like telehealth and billing are extra charges, as they are with other platforms. On SimplePractice, however, the added costs are transparent—$10/month per user for telehealth and electronic claim filing starts at 25¢ per claim.

Practices that don’t need these features, or use something else, aren’t stuck paying, and those that need them have a predictable cost at the end of the month. 

Predictable, affordable, and complete. That’s SimplePractice. Try it free for 30 days.

Their Switching Team will help you import everything and live support is included with every plan.

#4 – Kareo — Best for Independent Practices

Kareo is an all-in-one solution for practice management that’s designed to meet the particular needs of an independent practice. 

This is their focus. You never have to worry about competing with massive hospitals for their attention.

Kareo isn’t hospital software that’s been pared down. The platform is a simple set of three integrated modules: Clinical, Billing, and Engage. 

There aren’t a million components to get the complete system and, more importantly, each part works fine on its own. 

If a company just needs a dependable EHR, for example, Kareo Clinical has everything they need.

Charts are easy to read with space for notes. They feel simple, despite the wealth of information you can add. Kareo is optimized for all screen sizes, letting providers prescribe a medication or create a bill in minutes from any device.

The e-prescribing features save providers time and patients money. With Kareo’s integrated prescription discounts, doctors can compare prices and find savings for their patients.

They have a lot of great templates and forms that can be customized quickly, plus “same-as-last-time” features that streamline routine documentation. 

Other helpful tools include:

  • Patient portal
  • Customizable dashboards
  • Secure messaging
  • Decision support
  • Rich reporting
  • App marketplace

Kareo flowsheets are one of the most useful reporting features, showing doctors a patient’s key vitals and lab results over time. This makes it easier to analyze progress and track several aspects of a patient’s health at once.

None of these great features take long to master. There are self-service online resources like Kareo University, which many users find helpful.

But you are not on your own. After you sign up, they provide a free Kareo success coach for the first 60 days who will help with transferring and digitizing files. 

Their customer support is available via phone, email, and chat to answer all those insurance billing questions.

For independent practices that want an efficient, simple way to manage medical records, Kareo Clinical is going to overperform. 

Summary

Providing quality care is hard. 

That’s the root of the problem when it comes to finding a workable EMR system. Often, people put off switching to a better system because it’s such a pain.

Kareo and athenahealth do a lot to make the process easier. Independent practices should opt for Kareo because it’s built to fit their needs. For everyone else, athenahealth is a dependable long-term solution no matter how their practice evolves over time.

Looking at speciality practices, CareCloud is going to be the easiest to get up and running. So much of the backend organization has been done already. Templates and forms are ready to go and you don’t have to sort through irrelevant options.

For those working in the health and wellness space, SimplePractice is a perfect platform. It’s got competitive, predictable pricing and a rich set of features designed to nurture the most sensitive patient relationships.

The post Best EMR Systems appeared first on Neil Patel.

New comment by schuon in "Ask HN: Who is hiring? (December 2020)"

Alasco | Munich, Germany | Senior (Python) Engineer | Lead Engineer Backend Python | Frontend Developer | Senior Product Owner | On-Site | https://www.alasco.de/en/ We are a Munich-based StartUp that helps construction companies complete projects on time and budget. We digitize the processes in construction planning and execution by offering a cloud based workflow platform. Starting from Germany, we want to take on the world. We’re looking for Senior Python Engineers, a Tech Lead, Frontend Engineers and Product Owner. More at https://alasco.de/en Our stack: django/python + react/bootstrap on AWS. Our company language is English. We’re 59 people right now, wanna be the 60th? Reach out to [email protected] (Founder) or [email protected]!

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New comment by schuon in "Ask HN: Who is hiring? (December 2020)"

Alasco | Munich, Germany | Senior (Python) Engineer | Lead Engineer Backend Python | Frontend Developer | Senior Product Owner | On-Site | https://www.alasco.de/en/ We are a Munich-based StartUp that helps construction companies complete projects on time and budget. We digitize the processes in construction planning and execution by offering a cloud based workflow platform. Starting from Germany, we want to take on the world. We’re looking for Senior Python Engineers, a Tech Lead, Frontend Engineers and Product Owner. More at https://alasco.de/en Our stack: django/python + react/bootstrap on AWS. Our company language is English. We’re 59 people right now, wanna be the 60th? Reach out to [email protected] (Founder) or [email protected]!

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Why Small Businesses Fail and How to Not Fail in the New Year

There are a ton of studies about how most small businesses do not make it. There are studies that show 20% of new businesses do not make it past the first year. Others show 50% do not make it past 5 years, and according to the SBA, only 30% make it past 10 years.  

There is some question as to how accurate these actually are, based on a number of variables. One thing is for sure however. Many, many businesses fail, and you do not want yours to be one of them. 

How to Not Become Another Small Business Statistic in 2021

The question isn’t really about how many businesses fail. Rather, it’s about how not to fail. The best way to do that, is to take a hard look at why businesses fail, and then figure out how to avoid the pitfalls they were not able to. 

Here are 5 of the most common reasons why small businesses fail, and how to avoid them. 

Why Small Businesses Fail: Lack of Market

You can have what may seem like the best idea ever, but if there is no market for it, it will not do you much good.  On the flip side, there may be a need or desire for your product or service, but your timing is just off.  

For example, people may love old movies. But, in this pandemic state, the timing is not right to open a theater dedicated to them. Most are avoiding crowds.  Furthermore, the disposable income isn’t there.  Post pandemic may be another story.  Movie lovers will be looking to get out.  Incomes may still be low, but they may actually be more willing to drop money on a reduced-price ticket for an old movie than $12 on a ticket for a new move.  

You have to do market research, and remember, timing is everything. 

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Why Small Businesses Fail: Lack of Cash/Funding

Honestly, this may actually be number one right here.  Of course, you can have all the funding you need and still fail.  Even the best of businesses go down if they do not have the cash they need. So, this is where investors, small business loans, and other more creative business funding options come into play. 

Still, don’t think that a lack of personal or business credit means you don’t have a chance.  Truly, it is possible to build business credit, and you can even fund a business at the same time.  Options from The Small Business Administration work for many.  

Not only that, but nontraditional funding products like the credit line hybrid can be a lifesaver. The ability to take on a credit partner means you can access cash even without great personal credit, and this is one of the rare products that actually helps build business credit. 

Other benefits to using this type of funding include that it is unsecured.  In other words, you do not have to have any collateral.  Next, the funding is “no-doc.”  This means you don’t have to provide any bank statements or financials.  

Not only that, but typically approval is up to 5x that of the highest credit limit on the personal credit report. Additionally, often you can get interest rates as low as 0% for the first few months, allowing you to put that savings back into your business. 

The process is pretty fast, especially with a qualified expert to walk you through it.  One other benefit is this.  With the approval for multiple credit cards, competition is created.  This makes it easier, and likely even if you handle the credit responsibly, that you can get interest rates lowered and limits raised every few months. 

Why Small Businesses Fail: No Plan/ Not Working the Plan

If you apply for funding or financing from anyone, it’s likely you have a business plan.  Most lenders and investors require one.  Of course, if you are able to self-fund, that’s a different story altogether. Still, even if you have a plan, it does you no good if you don’t follow it.  That’s where most small businesses are when it comes to this point.  If you have a plan, work it.  Follow your marketing plan as developed per your market research. Stick to your budget.  Work the plan.

Here are the basics of a solid business plan. 

A Strong Opening 

This includes an executive summary of the business idea, a description of the business that goes into further detail, and the strategies you plan to implement for getting started. 

Market Research 

This actually includes two parts.  

Analysis of audience

What need will your business fill, and for who? How will your business fill the need? All of that information goes in this section. 

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Competitive Analysis

Is there already a business working to fill this need? Is there room for more? How do you plan to compete with them? 

The Plan 

How is all of this going to play out, from start to finish. What steps are you going to take? This is more detailed than your strategies section. 

Who will own or does own the business and who will run or currently runs it from day to day. This could be as simple as stating that you are the sole owner and operator, or as complicated as laying out a complete partnership plan or board or directors’ format. It just depends on how your business works. 

Financials

This section includes current financials, projections, and a budget plan for the loan funds you are applying for.  Lenders need to see that you know how to handle the funds you get, and that you have a plan to pay them back.

Working the Plan 

Are sales down? Refer to your plan.  Struggling with cash flow?  What does the plan say?  Trust the process. Also, remember to revisit the plan occasionally even if things are going well to look for ways to improve it, or adjust it if necessary.

Not having a business plan or not using a plan you have is definitely one recipe for why small businesses fail. 

Why Small Businesses Fail: Failure to Adapt

Another reason why businesses fail is failure to adapt. Never have we seen this more glaringly in a society than during the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, but it is always a reality.  Failure to adapt is failure to thrive.  Whether a quick pivot to working remotely, or revamping your entire strategy, the ability to adapt has proven to be a major survival technique for small business. 

Some examples that came out of the pandemic include:

  • Small bakeries offering curbside service and deliver
  • Locally owned movie theaters offering backyard movie packages, to-go theater treats, and family party packages for those in the same household to rent and entire theater
  • Hairdressers making house calls
  • Small boutiques offering online sales that you pick up curbside

These are just a few examples. There are many out there. 

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Why Small Businesses Fail: Not Having the Right Team in Place

Good help is hard to find, and a lack of it has caused many businesses to sink fast. It is important to hire the right people, and that takes planning.  You need to know your strengths and weaknesses first. Then, you can look for people that have strengths where you have weaknesses.  These are those that can stand in the gaps you may not be able to fill. 

This may not always be employees. You may need to outsource things like accounting or janitorial work. You also need to be diligent when hiring. Take the time to look at social media for example.  You may get a new view of who you are hiring. 

There Are Many Reasons Why Businesses Fail

A lot of the studies focus on how many businesses fail.  And it’s true, there are many reasons why small businesses fail.  However, these studies do not focus on the fact that a lot do survive.  Avoiding these common reasons why small businesses fail won’t guarantee survival, but it will certainly help.  Start the new year off planning to thrive, not fail. 

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