EMR / EHR Requirements and System Features List

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Accurate electronic health records are literally a matter of life and death, and sifting through the many EMR/EHR features can feel overwhelming. EMR and EHR software collect and standardize the information that is needed for managing patients’ medical records and treatment, so choosing the right system based on your specific EMR / EHR requirements is vital.

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EMR and EHR Requirements

This article will:

  1. Develop guiding questions to ask at the beginning of your search
  2. Provide a comprehensive features list
  3. Create an interactive functional requirements document to help identify the most important to your practice
  4. Help you choose the right system for your needs

Every journey begins with a single step, so let’s get started!

Importance of EMR and EHR Requirements

So what’s the big deal? Aren’t all EHR systems pretty much the same?

The short answer is not at all! The long answer is that each medical practice is unique — an occupational therapy clinic won’t have the same needs as a behavioral medicine provider. There may be an EHR system broad enough to adequately serve both, but selecting a specialized platform that is tailored to your practice can cut down on costs, improve adoption and result in better overall patient care. Identifying your organization’s specific needs will help you select the right solution to meet those needs and provide better patient care.

Questions to Ask

To identify what your practice needs from an EHR, you need to ask yourself some guiding questions. You will have to take into account a variety of issues before deciding which system to buy, and considering these questions beforehand can help refine your request for proposal to ensure you find the perfect solution for your medical software needs. Some of the questions you should consider asking include:

What are your goals for implementing an EHR?

Why are you searching for an EMR or EHR? If you’re upgrading to a more robust system, your requirements will look very different from a practice purchasing its first EMR. Having clear goals like “I want to be able to do more from my device” or “I want to centralize all my practice’s tasks into a single system” will help narrow down solutions that definitely aren’t a good fit. Naming the specific inefficiencies you’d like to solve is a good way to identify your goals.

Who will use the system? How many users?

A small family practice and a hospital won’t have the same needs, and many systems are priced on a per-user basis. Knowing not only how many users but who those users are is vital information to provide vendors to ensure a good match.

Does the system need to interface with other software solutions?

Do you use a separate system to schedule patients? What about a billing system? A legacy EHR? Data security software? None of the above? EHRs can be especially limited in their interoperability, so identify what you need to connect to well in advance to prevent frustration down the line.

Do you need to access the system on mobile, desktop, or both?

Many software systems offer mobile apps today — in fact, some only offer mobile interfaces! Identifying how you want to access the system is crucial.

Questions to Ask Before Purchasing an EHR

You should also ask questions of the prospective vendors before you settle on a match to make sure you have all the relevant information up front. Some questions to ask EHR vendors are:

  1. Does the platform integrate with other systems?
  2. Does it work on mobile devices?
  3. Is the system configurable to meet customization needs? At what cost?
  4. How does this system help patient flow?
  5. How often is the software updated? How do updates roll out?
  6. How long does implementation take on average?
  7. What training do you provide during and after implementation?
  8. How is data migrated from previous systems? Does it come at an extra cost?
  9. How do you keep data secure?
  10. What is the startup cost? What are the recurring costs?

Armed with these questions and the answers you gleaned from the first section you’re ready to take on our EMR requirements list.

EHR Vendor Questions

Get our EHR/EMR Software Requirements Template

Functional Requirements

Functional EHR software requirements refer to the capabilities at the core of the system. Most platforms will offer some version of these capabilities, but not necessarily all, so it’s important to know exactly what your practice needs and find out what the specific solution offers when you first conduct research.

Health Information

The most basic functions of EMR platforms is to keep a record of the patient’s health and treatment. It also may offer decision support features that help alert providers of possible risk trends and aid in the clinical decision making process.

  • Automatic Reminders
  • Outcome Analysis
  • Health History
  • Allergies
  • Health Profile

Order Management

These EHR capabilities digitize the steps between care provider, pharmacy and patient. E-prescribing allows physicians to submit an RX directly to the pharmacy of their choice so patients can pick up their medications in a time and place that suits their needs. It makes it more efficient for physicians to prescribe, search and view medications digitally.

Electronic medication administration record (eMAR) functionality lets practices track medication in order to keep it from being abused and to ensure it is properly received by the right person. Similarly, computerized physician order entry (CPOE) lets care providers submit medication orders directly through the EHR system, negating the need for clunky additional communication channels.

  • EPrescribing
  • Medication Tracking (eMAR)
  • Computerized Physician Order Entry (CPOE)

Communication

What makes an EHR an EHR is its ability to communicate with a variety of sources outside the practice. Patient portals are more than just helpful — they are expected in this day and age. Patient-centric portals give patients the ability to access their medication records, lab results, appointment schedules and educational resources. This can be done via an in-system portal or through software integration with a third party like Google Health.

Instead of wasting patient and physician time on ailments that are very minor or on commuting to the physical office, patients can simply message their physician via their EHR’s secure direct messaging system. Physicians can advise patients on medication changes and minor health problems or let them know an issue is serious enough to warrant an in-person visit.

While some organizations may require a separate patient scheduling system, EHRs offer enough scheduling functionality to meet many practices’ needs.

  • Patient Portal
  • Appointment Scheduling
  • Secure Direct Messaging (SDM)
  • E/M Coding
  • Insurance Verification
  • Telehealth

Get our EHR/EMR Software Requirements Template

Result Management

Managing patient treatment plans, receiving test results and tracking progress over time is crucial to successful care. There are various EMR features that facilitate result management.

Immunization registries are federal databases that collect vaccination records on citizens with the goal of high vaccination coverage. They consolidate medical data on children from multiple healthcare providers in order to identify children who are due or late for vaccines regardless of their provider. If an EHR system can’t be connected to these databases, patient data is more difficult to access later for important CDC studies or tasks like college enrollment.

The charting capabilities found in each system also contribute to how easily a physician can access patient records. Subjective, objective, assessment and plan (SOAP) note functionality is a huge benefit to practices as they communicate with interdisciplinary teams to treat patients. Along the same lines, computerized provider order entry (CPOE) can streamline practice workflows and balance workloads. Both these capabilities foster communication, accuracy and value-based care.

  • Clinical Summaries
  • Lab Orders
  • Lab Results
  • Immunization Registries
  • Integration
  • SOAP Notes
  • Problems List
  • CPOE Enabled
  • Prescription Templates
  • Demographic Management
  • Care Management

Revenue Cycle Management

At the end of the day, medical practices are businesses and have to manage their revenue flow. These features help track, manage and monitor cash flow, insurance claims and other financial aspects of your medical practice.

Technical EHR Requirements

You should also look for technical architectural features. These include security certifications, performance reporting, data management, deployment and more.

Medical compliance and data security is vital to keep in mind when purchasing an EHR. Almost all will be HIPAA compliant and come with ICD-10 support, but there are plenty of other types of security and certifications to look out for in order to get the best system for your practice. Some will be ONC-ATB compliant, meaning they have been certified by an additional regulatory body. Some will also be CCHIT certified.

How your system is accessed is another thing to consider. The EHR system can be installed into your private systems (called on-premise) or via software-as-a-service (SaaS) cloud-based EHR. Some deployments will give users access to mobile web apps that can be accessed remotely.

Another aspect to keep in mind is whether the EHR can integrate with other software. If you operate a large multi-location practice or hospital, can this EHR integrate with one or even multiple practice management software offerings? What about medical billing software? Finding out what interoperability capabilities you need beforehand can help ensure practice-wide implementation.

  • Document Upload and Storage
  • ONC-ATCB
  • ICD-10 Support
  • Mobile Web App
  • Deployment Environment
  • Implementation Services
  • Chat and Instant Message Options
  • E-Signature
  • APIs
  • Clinical Exchange Document Data Importing/Exporting

Get our EHR/EMR Software Requirements Template

System Selection

Don’t let the volume of EMR software features overwhelm you — this is meant to be an overall list, and every practice will find different features necessary. Using this EHR requirements template can help you evaluate which EHR capabilities are most important to you.

Once you’ve identified your EHR system requirements, you can generate an RFP to send to the vendors who best deliver those features. Based on the information you receive, you’re ready to create a shortlist and compare offerings — use our EHR/EMR comparison matrix and pricing guide to guide your evaluation.

After selecting a shortlist of best-fit platforms it’s time to ask for a personalized price quote and demos. Most platforms are priced based on which features users need, so you’ll be well prepared for this step. Take the system for a spin with a trial or demo to evaluate the user-friendliness of the interface for yourself.

Now you should be armed with the knowledge to find your perfect software match and continue providing excellent care to your patients!

Are there any additional guidelines you would add to this list of EMR and EHR requirements? If so, what do you look for in an EHR/EMR? Let us know in the comments!

Bergen AdairEMR / EHR Requirements and System Features List

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  • Top 5 PPC advertising company USA - September 18, 2019 reply

    I found this post while searching for some related information on a blog search. It’s a good post. Keep posting and update the information.

    Evan Heier - September 19, 2019 reply

    Glad you enjoyed the article. We tend to update our posts periodically as the industry makes changes.
    Thanks,
    Evan

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