The term “electronic medical records,” or “EMR,” refers to a method of digitally classifying patient data using specialised software. The general information about the patient, such as their medical history and the treatment they received at the clinic throughout their visits, is recorded in electronic medical records, which are essentially the digital equivalent of hard-copy data files.
As information is gathered over time by the medical practice and is referred to by the doctor at the time of visitation, it accumulates. It is a quick and effective way to collect and use data as a resource. The use of EMR systems in your practice has many advantages. So, shall we discuss them?
EMRs, aka Electronic Medical Records, are simply digital records used by physical therapists to keep track of patient health information. Any physical therapy clinic, both large and small, can access interfaces and a variety of functionalities thanks to EMR systems. They are used to manage payments, schedule patient visits, remind patients of their appointments, register new patients, share information, and keep track of patient health information.
More often than not, the records consist of a person’s medical background, summaries of previous sessions with a physical therapist, diagnoses, allergies, prescribed exercises, and long-term fitness goals. These online records are then taken into consideration in every subsequent physical therapy session. Furthermore, a patient’s medical history must be accurately recorded to help prevent incorrect diagnoses and to help deliver the right care.
EHR, aka Electronic Health Record and EMR, are now used interchangeably, so when discussing one, we must also discuss the other. They have some differences, even though some features may seem to overlap. While EHR takes the same data and makes it shareable across clinics, health institutions, and authorised providers, EMR contains comprehensive records and additional information. They are thorough patient histories that providers can share, leading to better care.
Their purposes also differ: one allows multiple providers to access records for diagnosis, decision-making, and care outside of a single provider’s clinic, while the other allows single providers to use EMR for treatment, care, and diagnosis. However, this doesn’t mean that one is less important than the other. As far as delivering the necessary care to patients, both of them are equally important.
EMR (Electronic Medical Record) systems come in two varieties:
- Server-based EMR
- Cloud-based EMR
Both have advantages and disadvantages, so knowing which one might work better for your practice is crucial.
EMR platforms that operate in the cloud are hosted on external servers that can be accessed online. In this case, there’s a third-party vendor that handles all server hardware maintenance, security, and software updates. They are accessible through budget-friendly monthly subscription plans. One of the biggest advantages of these services is that medical practises do not have to pay the hardware and maintenance costs associated with on-premise medical system deployments.
Your practice has a server-based EMR system installed there. Although having control over the equipment is a benefit of an on-premise deployment, there are some cons as well. The major drawback of such a system is that an IT specialist is required by medical practices that install EMR systems internally to maintain the system’s hardware, software, and data storage. And a breakdown in your equipment can result in unforeseen costs for your business.
Physical therapists and the healthcare technology sector can benefit from EMRs in various ways, and things today undoubtedly wouldn’t be the same without them being a part of the paradigm shift on a large scale.
Compared to traditional paper records, which would have required to be physically stored somewhere on-site, electronic medical records can help save a tonne of space. In the modern world, where the population is constantly expanding, every physical therapist will undoubtedly see a steady increase in the total number of patients they see annually. An increase in patients would also mean an increase in patient records, which may only have been possible in the past with access to enough storage space.
So, thankfully, the technological advancements in the healthcare industry flourished and ever since the outbreak of Coronavirus, EMR systems have been catching up with the digital era. Thus, now, physical therapists can streamline their workflow and save a tonne of time by using electronic medical records because they can access a patient’s medical records with just a few quick taps.
Earlier, a physical therapist would have needed to search for a specific paper record or read sloppy handwriting for several minutes, if not longer. And all of this time can now be saved by the one and only physical therapy software with an EMR system. Fortunately, EMRs are organised and stored efficiently online for complete user-friendliness, so all a physical therapist needs to do to find a patient’s information is enter a name or date of birth.
It’s fair to say that the use of electronic medical records can also help to lessen the possibility of administrative challenges as well as operational costs, as there won’t be a need for data extraction by staff members whose role would have previously involved sorting through mountains of medical records to find those that match. Utilising digital records also reduces human error because the storage programme has undergone extensive testing to ensure that the code is error-free and bug-free.
Note: Making the most of the EMR interface will enable communication between healthcare professionals, including but not limited to physical therapy clinics, hospitals, labs, and neighbourhood doctors. All types of medical data can be found in one convenient location, eliminating hours of unnecessary waiting while data is being retrieved.
Electronic medical record systems can also offer clinical alerts and reminders that keep medical staff members informed and motivate them to give patients the best care possible based on their individual needs. An EMR system is always helpful because it makes it easier for healthcare professionals to stay informed and up-to-date when there are numerous daily appointments.
One of the biggest advantages of electronic medical records is a crucial built-in safety measure that prevents doctors from prescribing any kind of treatment or medication that might have negative effects, like an allergic reaction or some health condition on a prolonged exercise like asthma or bronchitis. Many patients would be put in grave danger if they were given the incorrect treatment for their condition, but this can be easily monitored in an EMR.
For physical therapists who are conducting condition research for any reason, using EMR systems also gives them access to more public health data systems, such as registries and even communication with disease databases. Furthermore, EMR systems assist in enhancing patient engagement, care coordination, safety, and efficiency as well as reducing health disparities. They also help to protect the privacy and security of patient health information.
Since now, you must have got the brief information about how useful EMR systems can be for physical therapists on a day-to-day basis; let’s move on and have a look at how they can also help and let PTs expand their practice.
Think ahead when selecting the software for electronic medical records. Most likely, you have some ambitious objectives for your physical therapy business. You might want to expand your patient base, distinguish yourself from your rivals with cutting-edge technologies, or even open a new location in the future.
Optimal physical therapy EMR software is one that not only satisfies all of your practice’s present needs but also has the capacity to expand along with it. Some EMR programs are created for enormous multidisciplinary clinics, while others are really only appropriate for small practices. While a simple, inexpensive platform might be sufficient for the time being, it might ultimately restrict your growth.
You’ll be able to concentrate on your business without experiencing a significant increase in overhead costs if you choose a scalable EMR system. Your physical therapy software should be the last thing on your mind when you’re taking exciting steps to expand your practice. So, it’s important that you cross-check the functions of an EMR system before you put your money on it.
The following eight critical functions for safety, quality, and effective care delivery should be supported by EMR systems:
- Information about the patient, including diagnoses, medical history, allergies, test results, and medications, is accessible to physical therapists.
- Access to recent and old test results or previous physical therapy sessions among healthcare professionals, physical therapists, or occupational therapists in various care settings.
- Improved legibility, less duplication, and faster order execution thanks to computerised provider order entry.
- Computerised decision-support systems to ensure regular screenings and other preventive measures and to help improve compliance with best clinical practices.
- Secure electronic communication between physical therapists and patients can enhance continuity of care, speed up diagnosis and treatment, and lessen the frequency of unfavourable events.
- Access for patients to health information resources, disease management tools, and medical records.
- Administrative procedures that are computerised, like scheduling programmes.
- Electronic data reporting and storage based on standards for patient safety and disease surveillance initiatives.
You might be thinking that EMR is just beneficial to physical therapists for their present and their future. However, that’s not the case. Let’s get a sneak peek at the benefits of EMR systems for patients.
EMR systems can be helpful for patients in the below-mentioned ways:
- Fewer mistakes than with paper records.
- Better and more rapid care.
- Analyse historical data and outcomes.
- Improve the diagnosis and treatment.
- Determine which patients need screenings and preventive care.
- Improved privacy and security for patient health data.
- Supports decisions made using data.
- Get follow-up support in the form of reminders, web links, and self-care advice.
- Patients can view their prescriptions, access their records, and implement suggested lifestyle changes.
Electronic health records are created to make storing, organising, and editing health records much simpler and more effective. This is similar to many other new digital revitalisations of traditional practices. As a result, the following are some advantages they might be able to provide:
EMR solutions provide complete, up-to-date patient information at the point of care. Rehabilitation therapists feel the advantages of this single-repository system. This gives them access to each patient’s full medical history and allows them to take notes in treatment flow sheets during an encounter in under three minutes. In the end, the result favours more treatment time and fewer monotonous administrative tasks.
This enables business owners to advance beyond manual paper records kept in files and various physical therapy software programs. One useful benefit of records-sharing EMRs is eliminating duplicate file creation and management. They are an all-inclusive tool that facilitates gradual rehabilitation and recovery while lowering non-billable costs and data entry.
Any administrative team that works with physical papers and records may find that sorting through those papers is a cumbersome part of their job duties. This is not only laborious and slow, but it also wastes time that your team could be used elsewhere and reduces productivity. Finding the information you need on digital systems is much simpler and often only requires a few keystrokes, saving you time and effort.
Medical professionals can especially benefit from EMR systems. They can gather, compile, and provide information in ways that paper files cannot. Pie charts and graphs are used to present information to the audience. Data systems show weight, blood pressure, and cholesterol values, enabling doctors to monitor any changes that have occurred over time. Furthermore, they enable them to manage screening goals and chronic diseases more effectively, enhancing the standard of care given to patients. Additionally, they can alert doctors when screening procedures and prevention strategies need to be updated, encouraging them to adopt new ones.
Providers spend 17 to 24 minutes with each patient, with an average wait time of 18 minutes. With this math, everyone loses patients, as well as healthcare professionals. Check-in automation expands the number of hours a therapist is available for billing.
Self-service scheduling for appointments is a feature of the EMR that is valued by the PT staff and patients. A practice can see patients quickly and effectively if its records are integrated with electronic health records and are accessible through any hardware device. Patients can view their health information, prescriptions, and any injury complications to discuss treatment options with their PT. The administrative staff’s time spent with patients during check-ins has significantly decreased. In particular, expediting patient flow on days with lower traffic can enable therapists to treat more patients.
Therapists can easily access all documentation and notes during the patient’s subsequent session by using EMR software to keep everything in one place. This facilitates better patient care and coordination in addition to streamlining the documentation process. Electronic documentation is especially crucial if one therapist is ill or taking a trip. Even if there is little to no advance notice of the therapist’s absence, it enables another clinician in practice to continue offering appropriate and goal-oriented treatment to that clinician’s patients.
Online consultation is also made possible through physical therapy software for immobile patients or unable to travel to an in-person appointment. Remote invitations, scheduling, billing, and guided therapy are all made possible by physical therapy software, all through a single platform integrated with a patient’s files.
The pandemic increased PT’s geographic reach by increasing the demand for the virtual therapy option. Physical therapy clinics can schedule these distance appointments just like they would for in-clinic clients. The EMR softwarewill automate the scheduling administration for therapy appointments. By offering this convenient care option, PT practices also benefit from a decrease in cancellations and no-showups.
In the end, we can conclude that the advantages of EMR outweigh their drawbacks. The upfront and training costs for EMR software implementation must be considered. From the beginning, choosing an EMR requires careful consideration. Switching systems in terms of money, time, and training expenses is expensive. EMR’s future depends on addressing security issues and properly implementing the technology.
In order to improve patient care and increase your practice’s financial success, you must have a solid EMR system. A patient’s information is permanently stored in EMR software for physical and occupational purposes, so you never have to stress about losing a patient’s record. This is your cue to find physical therapy software that works best for your clinic, whether you are a new clinic owner or have yet to switch from paper records.
Preetika Thakur works as the Outreach Head for SmartPT Online, a physiotherapy software. Since she is good with people, she uses her skills to make a mark on society by educating people about the benefits of having good health. With her experience working in the healthcare industry, she’s also skilled in letting the numbers flow.