The Future of EMR/EHR Technology: 3 Predictions

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Whether it be small to medium-sized therapy clinics or enterprise-level rehab organizations, there’s no doubt that the advent of electronic medical records has improved the quality of many different healthcare specialties. From streamlined daily workflows and increased revenue cycle efficiencies to automated patient engagement and scalable business intelligence tools, therapy and rehab practices that choose to overhaul their processes are seeing improvements in their operations across the board.

That being said, technology is constantly shifting to meet the demands of users, and the healthcare field is no exception. Let’s talk about how providers’ needs should inform the future of EMR technology!

Evolving Standards for Electronic Medical Records (EMR) Software

To better understand what changes still need to be made to further elevate digital solutions, the American Medical Association polled healthcare providers on what they would consider priority improvements to current practice management software. Here are 3 things that need to change about EMRs in order to meet evolving provider standards:

  1. Usability
  2. Compliance and Safety
  3. Efficiency

How Much Time are Care Providers Spending in Their EMR System?

In collaboration with Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, the AMA conducted a study to determine how much time providers spend working with patients versus working within an electronic health record (EHR) software and the findings were very telling: for every hour spent with a patient, two hours were spent on EHR and clerical tasks. This brings to light an important issue that therapists are keen to see resolved in their practice management software: improved usability and design.

What’s more, a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association found a direct correlation between EHR usability and worker burnout – the better the usability score, the lower the risk of burnout. The results are clear: without a user-friendly dashboard or intuitive toolsets, therapists and their office personnel may struggle to navigate their patient records, not only increasing the likelihood that staff members may leave due to burnout, but also provoking lower patient satisfaction rates, running the risk of incomplete tasks, resulting in poor patient outcomes, or even increasing issues with compliance and safety mishaps.

To address these concerns, it’s more important than ever to listen to the technological wants and needs of the healthcare industry. That’s why EMRs that allow user input for future updates and implementations as well as encourage feedback on existing functionalities, hold the key to the future of practice management software and quality patient care.

HIPAA Compliance and Safety Features in EHRs

Healthcare providers are only human, so mistakes are a given – but a medical error can quickly snowball into a safety hazard! While intuitive software design plays a major role in preventing missteps, other measures must be put into place to ensure that patient health information is protected. These can include things like built-in security systems, regular safety training for staff, or even clear policies and procedures. By taking these measures, you can help protect patient data and PHI confidentiality.

To ensure that practice management platforms not only meet HIPAA safety standards but also qualify for the Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) program, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) created usability criteria to test EHRs against. Developers that opt to design ONC-compliant software must keep these points in mind, among others:

  • Is this technology interoperable with other programs?
  • Does this platform facilitate data exchange?
  • Is the framework for this software standardized?
  • Will the tools within this platform be able to capture demographic data?

Currently, it is not required for an EMR to be ONC-certified, which means a lot of the practice management software on the market today may not meet the compliance standards for MIPS, or even information blocking, possibly incurring heavy fines and penalties. EMRs that go the extra mile to ensure that their digital solutions are ONC-certified can offer therapists more patient care opportunities as well as instill peace of mind.

EHR Systems Should Promote Efficient Workflows

When making the switch to a new EMR, whether for the first time or as a much-needed change, there is always a period of tension where clinical efficiencies and even patient satisfaction suffers. While most of this can be attributed to growing pains and office staff training, setting up automated processes as soon as possible can be a quick way to not only restore balance to daily workflows but see a marked improvement in your day-to-day operations.

Beyond the benefits of establishing automation in your practice as quickly as possible, a study performed by Salesforce showed that every department within an organization that utilizes process automation sees a return on investment (ROI), with IT (52%) and Operations (47%) seeing the greatest ROI:

  • 37% Customer Service
  • 30% Finance
  • 18% HR
  • 18% Marketing
  • 13% Sales

With such clear cost savings, it’s no surprise that 88% of those polled reported that they are currently investing in automation or that they intend to in the near future. Plus, who can actually deny the benefits of automation in healthcare?

The Future of EMR/EHR Systems for Therapy and Rehab

Addressing usability, security, and automation is only a small part of what will shape digital solutions going forward. While the current EHR/EMRs on the market have undoubtedly revolutionized the healthcare industry, the wants and needs of providers continue to pioneer the way for future enhancements that can further improve how quality care is delivered to patients. 

For example, it’s not only possible to look up a list of ONC-certified EMRs, it’s becoming commonplace for platforms to seek ONC certification, making safety measures and intuitive design easier than ever to implement. What’s more, those looking to improve their ROI can seek out an EMR that specializes in automation across customer relationship management software (CRMs), revenue cycle management (RCM) tools, and even business intelligence features.

By offering perfectly tailored solutions, Raintree’s EMR not only grows with your therapy and rehab practice, we cultivate your business growth as well! With our constantly evolving solutions, we offer the digital tools your organization needs to future-proof your business.

Interested in learning more? Schedule a discovery call today!

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