EHR explained: A guide to electronic healthcare systems (2024)

What is an electronic health record? In this article, we go deep into the world of EHR systems, unraveling the complexities and showcasing how these digital tools can help healthcare practices. With over 75% of office-based clinicians and 96% of hospitals in the United States using an EHR system, according to HealthIT.gov, the shift from traditional paper records to digital platforms is nearly ubiquitous. Yet, despite their widespread adoption, EHRs are often a significant source of frustration for healthcare providers.

EHRs are often badly designed and don’t integrate with other systems, leading to wasted time and unnecessary friction. Providers often feel frustrated because their EHRs promised them flexibility and efficiency — but what they’ve got is rigid and inefficient.

However, when effectively implemented, EHR systems can automate key processes, enhance patient engagement, improve health outcomes, and boost operational margins. In sum, they allow healthcare professionals to focus more on patient care and less on administrative tasks.

Let’s learn how to make an informed decision about your practice’s EHR.

What is an EHR?

An EHR is a digital version of a patient's medical record.Think of it like a comprehensive online chart that securely stores and organizes a patient’s important health information, usually in reverse chronological order, including:

  • Demographics: Examples include the patient’s name, address, date of birth, gender, contact information, insurance information, and emergency contact details.
  • Medical history: Past illnesses, surgeries, immunizations, and family medical history. It can also contain their social history, habits (tobacco, alcohol, drug use, etc.), growth chart, and developmental history (children).
  • Medications: Current and past medications, dosages, and allergies.
  • Lab results: Blood work, X-rays, imaging scans, pathology reports, and specialized testing such as pulmonary function tests and genetic testing.
  • Vital signs: Blood pressure, temperature, heart rate, heart rate, respiratory rate, oxygen saturation, and height and weight.
  • Medical encounters: Doctors' notes and progress reports. These include the chief complaint, history of present illness, physical examination, diagnosis, assessment and plan, hospital admission documentation, referral information, and consultation notes.
  • Orders and prescriptions: Detailed instructions including medications, physical or occupational therapy, post-operative or procedure care instructions, and follow-up including emergency instructions.
  • Procedures: Surgical and medical procedures, rehabilitation therapy details.
  • Risk factors: Lifestyle factors (smoking, alcohol consumption), occupational hazards, environmental exposures.
  • Care plans: Chronic disease management plans, preventive care recommendations, behavioral health treatment plans.
  • Other information: Digital images of the patient; flowsheets from operations, procedures, or stays in the emergency room or intensive care unit; informed consent forms; EKG or EEG tracings; digital radiology or pathology images; digital output from medical devices such as pacemakers or cardiac assist; medication or chemotherapy protocols; clinical research protocols; and any relevant patient-specific information.

EHRs are accessible by authorized healthcare providers involved in a patient's care, who can view and share crucial data instantly and securely. They streamline communication, promote coordinated care, and reduce the risk of errors due to incomplete or outdated information. EHRs can combine large databases of patient information to follow healthcare trends, develop new treatments, and innovate healthcare delivery. These features were especially beneficial during the COVID-19 pandemic.

History of EHRs

The history of EHRs and EMRs began in the 1960s, but there were challenges around technology limitations and lack of standardization. EMRs and EHRs were also so expensive that primarily the government used them in partnership with health organizations. In the early 1990s, widespread EHR adoption was further delayed due to physician reluctance because of a lack of any real incentive.

The early 2000s saw the introduction of government incentives in the United States, like the Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs. These incentives encouraged healthcare providers to implement EHR systems, which led to a surge. By 2020, nearly 90% of hospitals and 75% of office-based physicians in the U.S. had adopted at least a basic EHR system.

However, the widespread adoption of EHRs led to concerns about patient privacy and data security. As a result, several laws and regulations were established to protect patient data and ensure proper use of EHRs.

Some key examples of these regulations include:

  • Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA): A U.S. law enacted in 1996 to protect patient information. Its Privacy Rule covers the use and disclosure of patient-identifiable information — referred to as protected health information (PHI) — by individuals and organizations called covered entities (CEs).
  • Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH Act): This U.S. law expands HIPAA and imposes stricter data security and breach notification requirements.
  • General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR): This European Union regulation addresses the processing of personal data, including health information. It also empowers individuals with control over their data.

These regulations outline various requirements for healthcare providers using EHRs, including:

  • Implementing appropriate security measures to protect patient data
  • Obtaining patient consent for sharing information
  • Reporting data breaches to authorities and affected individuals
  • Providing patients with access to their EHR data

As a result of improved safety and security, EHRs now help physicians determine optimal patterns of care while preserving privacy. EHRs have also changed the dynamics of the doctor-patient relationship with better communication and documentation.

What information is included in an EHR record?

An EHR solution is a dynamic and secure information hub accessible across different healthcare providers.

We’ve covered the core elements of an EHR, such as medical history, medications, labs, vital signs, and clinical notes.But there’s more to the story, as recognizing health is more than just a history of electronic medical records.

EHR records can also contain the following information for full patient context:

  • Social determinants of health (SDOH): EHRs increasingly capture factors like income, housing, and education to provide a holistic view of potential health risks and to promote targeted interventions.
  • Imaging and scans: EHRs often integrate digital versions of X-rays, MRIs, and other diagnostic images to create a readily accessible visual library of patients' health.
  • Patient-reported outcomes (PROs): PROs include subjective experiences, like how patients feel about their own health. Typically captured through surveys or questionnaires, this data can personalize treatment plans and empower shared decision-making. PROs are increasingly recognized as valid outcomes including quality of life and physical functioning.
  • Genomic data: As genetic testing becomes more prevalent, EHRs may house genetic information to pave the way for personalized medicine. This might include genetic risk assessment and preventive care based on individual predispositions.

What are the different types of EHRs?

EHR software

There are 3 major types of EHR software: software as a service (SaaS), on-premise (also known as enterprise), and custom.

Cloud-based EHRs

In this EHR model (also known as a SaaS solution), your practice accesses the system via the Internet. You do not need servers and other infrastructure on-site.

Typically, a SaaS solution has lower upfront costs but requires a monthly or annual subscription, making it suitable for smaller practices or those with limited IT resources.

SaaS EHRs have some customization, but are not as customizable as on-premise EHR software.

On-premise EHR software

Choosing an on-premise EHR solution means you buy the software product from an EHR supplier and install it on your own servers.

You need to invest upfront in software, servers, and local network connectivity —plus ongoing maintenance. However, this type of EHR software generally does not require a subscription fee.

Most on-premise EHR software can be used immediately, but your practice will probably need to customize clinical content, templates, reports, or other functions to fit your needs and workflows.

Hybrid EHR systems

This hybrid method combines elements of both on-premise and cloud-based models.

Typically, some data is stored locally, while other information is hosted in the cloud. A hybrid option offers greater flexibility and personalization than a true SaaS model, but still needs local IT management and support.

For example, a hybrid approach for your practice may look like building custom interfaces, templates, and reports into a flexible enterprise on-premise EHR.

Type of EHRBenefitsChallenges
Cloud-based EHRs
  • Reduces upfront hardware and software costs
  • Reduces ongoing maintenance costs
  • Lets you start small and increase IT allocations as needed
  • Provides higher levels of IT service availability than in-house IT services
  • Reduces run-time failures
  • Data security — you and your cloud clinician share responsibility
  • On-premise EHR software
  • Often less investment in internet connection upgrades
  • You won't have to trust an outside organization with the security of your patients' data
  • Making sure the servers are physically secure and temperature-controlled is your responsibility
  • You're in charge of performing regular data backups
Hybrid EHR systems
  • Adaptable to specific needs, allowing practices to choose cloud-based modules for features like patient portals while keeping sensitive data on-premise
  • Can offer a balance between the upfront costs of on-premise systems and the ongoing subscription fees of cloud solutions
  • On-premise data backups provide protection against cloud outages, while the cloud offers redundancy for local hardware failures
  • Offers more control over data access and customization compared to solely cloud-based systems
  • Less reliant on high-speed internet access compared to a fully cloud-based system
  • Managing and integrating 2 different systems can be complex, requiring outsourced technical expertise or resources
  • Ensuring seamless data exchange and functionality between the cloud and on-premise components can be challenging
  • The system's overall security is only as strong as its weakest link, requiring rigorous security measures in both environments
  • Scaling the on-premise portion might require hardware upgrades, while scaling the cloud component might incur additional subscription costs
  • Navigating and complying with data privacy regulations across both systems can be complex

EHR storage

There are also 3 main EHR data storage options:

On-site EHR data storage

On-site data storage means your enterprise or custom EHR system will store all data on your in-house servers.This allows your practice to closely monitor privacy and security, and helps you keep control of your EHR data. However, this option can be costly, so this is typically a more practical solution for large practices.

On-site data storage requires you to develop a plan to regularly back up your systems in case servers fail. You will also need to adopt a high-availability plan — access to an EHR at all times is critical to patient care.

EHR data hosted remotely on dedicated servers

Many EHR suppliers allow you to store data off-site on dedicated servers. Your practice effectively rents external space instead of needing an in-house server room.

This way, you remain in control of your data without needing to buy, house, and maintain local servers. Medium and large practices benefit the most from a remote hosting option — especially if there’s a challenge with setting up and maintaining in-house servers.

Cloud-based EHR data storage

Cloud-based data storage is most common for SaaS EHRs.

It’s often cheaper to store your EHR data in the cloud than local or dedicated remote servers. Cloud-based storage also enables your providers and patients to access data from anywhere with an internet connection.

Because cloud-based storage typically has lower upfront costs, it’s a wise choice for smaller practices. A monthly or annual fee is required. You should also check the data ownership provisions of the cloud storage contract to ensure you’re in control of your data — in case you decide to switch EHR systems down the road.

What are the benefits of an EHR for patients?

The EHR concept has transformed healthcare practices, both by streamlining workflows and by improving data management. But what about the patient experience?

  • Portability: Because patients’ medical information is securely stored online and accessible through any internet-connected device, EHRs are certainly more convenient than paper records. Instant access empowers informed decision-making, whether that’s discussing treatment options with doctors or seeking urgent care while traveling. Readily available information simplifies tasks like insurance claims, referrals, and administrative processes. This reduces stress and allows patients to focus on what truly matters: getting well and staying healthy.
  • Convenient access: EHRs often come with patient portals, offering 24/7 access to medical records. For instance, patients can view lab results, refill prescriptions, schedule appointments, and even securely message their doctor with questions or concerns. In turn, patients experience a more continuous and convenient communication experience.
  • Improved care: Easy data sharing enables specialists, emergency room doctors, or pharmacists to instantly access patients’ complete medical history. This means informed treatment decisions and avoiding medication conflicts. No more starting from scratch each time patients seek care — their health story travels with them.
  • Proactive health management: EHRs enable healthcare professionals to identify potential health risks early. This is possible throughaActivities such as preventive screenings and interventions targeted to patients’ specific needs, based on trends and patterns in their EHR data.

EHR explained: A guide to electronic healthcare systems (2)

One of the key benefits we've mentioned — convenient access — is vital in strengthening the patient-provider relationship. This is how.

How can EHRs strengthen the relationship between patients and providers?

A strong patient-provider connection relies on more than just efficient information flow.

Here's how EHRs — when used thoughtfully — can bridge the gap and cultivate trust with patients:

Shared stories, not just charts: Accessible EHRs allow patients to actively review their medical history, lab results, and even progress notes alongside you. This fosters trust and often means they’re more confident to ask questions, discuss concerns openly, and collaborate in treatment decisions. Improved documentation may include examples such as before and after photos, radiology or pathology images, and graph representations of data such as blood glucose or blood pressure readings.

“EHRs — when used thoughtfully — can bridge the gap and cultivate trust with your patients.”

From transactions to partnerships: Medical consultations shouldn't feel like rushed transactions. Patient portals built into EHRs are an excellent way to communicate with patients to answer questions, address concerns, and securely share educational resources. This ongoing dialogue builds trust, ensures you hear them, and empowers patients to be active participants in their health journey.

Empathy through knowledge: Healthcare professionals who already understand the context of a patient's situation are able to engage in deeper, more nuanced conversations. This demonstrates empathy and genuine interest in their unique experiences — ultimately strengthening the bond and create ongoing trust in your expertise.

It’s important to remember that the technology that delivers EHRs should enhance, not replace, human connection.

Look beyond the data and see the person with a story. Use EHRs to build bridges and cultivate patient trust. By doing so, you'll not only improve outcomes but also create a more rewarding experience for your team and your patients.

How EHRs affect independent providers

Independent providers face the challenges of operating within tight budgets, limited resources, and keeping pace with rapid technological advances.

With this in mind, it’s interesting to consider whether EHRs, despite their transformative impact on healthcare, help or present new obstacles for independent providers.

Cost implications

The first consideration is cost.

For independent healthcare providers, the financial burden is substantial. This includes the upfront costs of software,hardware, and training, along with the ongoing cost of maintenance. These expenses may strain the resources of independent providers, so careful budgeting and resource allocation is essential.

Nonetheless, incentive payments from Medicare and Medicaid EHR incentive programs are available to eligible independent providers, providing some financial relief.

Interoperability challenges

Ensuring continuity of care is vital, as it ensures all providers have access to up-to-date and comprehensive patient information for informed decision-making and improved patient outcomes.

This is why sharing patient records can become problematic if independent providers use their own EHR. Using the same EHR facilitates access toany patient’s records, ensuring seamless continuity of care.

How EHRs help independent providers

Despite the challenges they pose, EHRs offer several benefits that can positively impact independent providers and their practices:

Streamlined workflows

Unlike larger healthcare institutions, independent providers often have smaller teams with limited administrative support.

EHRs can streamline workflow processes by automating tasks such as appointment scheduling, charting, and billing. This allows independent providers to manage their practice more efficiently with fewer resources. EHRs may allow independent physicians to access large data resources including local and national trends, clinical studies, and pharmacologic formularies.

Enhanced patient engagement

Independent providers rely heavily on building strong relationships with their patients.

EHRs provide tools such as patient portals and secure messaging systems. These allow providers and staff to engage directly with their patients, answer questions, provide educational resources, and involve them more actively in their healthcare decisions.

Customization for individual care

Independent providers often specialize in niche areas of medicine or serve specific patient populations. As such, providers can customize their EHRs to meet the unique needs of these practices. For instance, tailor templates, workflows, and decision support tools to align with specialized areas of expertise and provide more personalized care to patients.

Compliance with regulations

Independent providers must comply with the same regulatory requirements as larger healthcare organizations, such as HIPAA for patient privacy and security. EHRs designed specifically for independent providers incorporate built-in compliance features and updates. This helps providers maintain regulatory compliance without additional burden or complexity.

EHR pros and cons

Let’s turn now to some of the key EHR advantages and disadvantages.

Pros

CMS.gov describes an ideal EHR with “the ability to support other care-related activities directly or indirectly through various interfaces, including evidence-based decision support, quality management, and outcomes reporting.”

But what else does an EHR bring to the table?

Improved efficiency: EHRs eliminate the need for manual data entry or searching for records, reducing errors and saving time for both providers and patients. This allows providers to spend more time focusing on patients and less time worrying about technology.

Decreased waiting times: Options like telehealth enable patients to connect with their doctor virtually for consultations, medication reviews, or follow-up visits — saving them valuable time and travel. For instance, Tebra’s Telehealth equips patients with secure messaging, provider unique URLs, group appointments, and virtual waiting rooms so you can deliver the effortless experience patients expect.

Easier medication management: Alleviate frustration on all sides with faster, easier ePrescriptions that give patients a transparent view of their medication orders and providers a better way to document medications,and manage refills, changes, and cancellations. EHRs can also flag potential drug interactions based on a patient's complete medication history to ensure medication safety and reduce adverse effects.

Enhanced accuracy and accessibility: Patient information is readily available from anywhere with an internet connection, which mitigates the risk of lost or misplaced records. Moreover, electronic health records can help to reduce errors by using features such as drop-down menus and automated checks.

Better care coordination: Real-time data sharing across different healthcare providers ensures informed treatment decisions and can reducethe risk of medication conflicts.

A survey by the Center for Connected Medicine (CMM) involving technology executives from U.S. hospitals and health systems reveals that nearly a third acknowledge their data-sharing efforts are insufficient, even within their own organizations. Less than 40% of these technology executives state that they are successfully sharing healthcare datawith other health systems.

Personalized care: Data analysis can identify potential health risks and tailor preventive measures or treatment plans to individual needs.

Patient engagement: Secure patient portals can empower patients to review their records, schedule appointments, and communicate with providers to promote active participation in their care.

Maximize revenue: Maximize reimbursem*nts and earn positive performance-based payment adjustments.

Research and innovation: De-identified EHR data can contribute to research initiatives and lead to advancements in healthcare and improved population health.

Further Reading

“Interoperability” — what does this health IT buzzword mean for your practice?

4 ways to empower patients at your healthcare practice

Get on the path to growth: Your guide to thriving in 2024 as a healthcare practice

Cons

Initial cost and implementation: Transitioning from paper records to EHRs can involve significant upfront costs and training.

Potential for workflow disruption: Learning and adapting to new EHR systems can initially disrupt established workflows and impact productivity levels.

Potential for health disparities: Unequal access to technology or digital literacy skills might create barriers for certain populations; potentially exacerbating existing disparities.

Privacy and security concerns: EHR platforms give your practice a secure, care-focused means of maintaining PHI (protected health information), such as patient records.

Under HIPAA, EHR data is considered PHI because of the amount of sensitive demographic information collected and stored in EHR platforms. To safeguard this data, you need robust security measures in place and adhere strictly to regulations like HIPAA.

HIPAA regulation mandates that healthcare providers comply with national privacy and security standards to safeguard PHI. This includes any demographic information that can be used to identify a patient — such as names, dates of birth, Social Security numbers, insurance information, phone numbers, and full facial photos. It’s vital for EHR providers to be HIPAA compliant to protect clients’ healthcare data from security incidents and to avoid government fines.

EHR vs. paper records

FeaturePaper recordsElectronic records
AccessibilityLimited to physical locationAccessible from anywhere with internet
Record integrityTime-consuming manual searchInstantaneous electronic search
SearchabilityProne to damage, loss, and alterationsSecurely stored and tamper-proof
CollaborationDifficult to share between providersSeamless data sharing across networks
AccuracyProne to transcription errors and inconsistencies

Coding may be an issue as there are a multitude of required diagnoses and procedure codes

Higher data accuracy and standardization
CostLower initial costHigher initial cost, but potential long-term savings

Paper based records — what can go wrong?

While paper records have stood the test of time, they come with significant limitations and vulnerabilities that can create serious challenges in healthcare settings.

Here's a closer look at some of the potential issues:

Accuracy and security

Medication mistakes: Handwritten notes are susceptible to errors and misinterpretations — potentially causing incorrect diagnoses and medication issues.

Alterations: Paper records can be physically altered, added to, lined out, or erased, leading to issues for medical liability. Digital records eliminate these concerns and ensure a more secure method of documentation, because even digital records that are erased can be retrieved.

Unauthorized access: Because paper records are physically accessible to anyone who can get into the storage area, they pose a serious risk to patient privacy and confidentiality.

Limited audit trails: Tracking paper-based record changes is difficult, hindering accountability and making it hard to identify potential fraud or tampering.

Accessibility and efficiency

Limited accessibility: Retrieving specific information can be time-consuming and inconvenient.

Sharing challenges: Sharing information with other healthcare providers or specialists becomes tedious and cumbersome, potentially delaying diagnoses and treatment.

Loss and damage

Misplacement: Physical documents can easily be misplaced, lost, or stolen. Missing information and disrupting patient care can be common.

Damage: Prone to tears, spills, fires, and natural disasters, paper records can become illegible or even destroyed, resulting in permanent data loss.

Deterioration: Over time, paper and ink degrade, making records difficult to read or even unusable, hindering access to crucial historical information.

The issues with paper records, from potential medication errors to limited accessibility, necessitate a more efficient and secure solution. Let's dive into the top EHR software systems and their features.

Top EHR software systems and their features

Some of the common EHR software systems on the market today include:

Practice Fusion

Practice Fusion is a cloud-based EHR that consolidates provider and staff responsibilities with a comprehensive system. It promises to organize patient information before, during, and after the visit.

Features include:

  • Automatic updates
  • Chart on any device
  • Integrated policy support
  • Free patient portal
  • Flexible billing
  • Task management
  • Scheduling

Epic

Epic’s cloud-based EHR system is well suited for large healthcare systems, such as multi-hospital systems and institutions.

Expect features like:

  • Customized patient charting
  • Prompts for billing codes
  • Flowsheets, templates, and free-text options
  • SmartTexts for frequently used phrases or data
  • Detailed reports

eClinicalWorks

eClinicalWorks provides scheduling and check-in through documentation, labs, prescribing, billing, and follow-up, as well as:

  • Virtual assistant capabilities
  • Patient safety and compliance dashboards
  • Enhanced prescribing of controlled substances
  • Telehealth
  • Patient check-in tools
  • Billing features

Tebra

Tebra is a cloud-based EHR, specifically designed for independent practices. Its all-in-one solution combines patient engagement and practice management into an easy-to-use EHR software system.

Beyond this, Tebra's EHR software is packed with essential features designed to streamline your practice’s operations and enhance patient care:

  • Calendar integration with online scheduling: Empower your patients to book directly with you on 50-plus sites including Google, Facebook, and more. Offer immediate, 24/7 online booking anywhere patients find your practice.
  • Automated appointment reminders: Tebra’s appointment reminders enable patients to confirm their scheduled appointments via email, text message, or phone call.
  • Comprehensive patient records: Get a full picture of the patient, improve clinical accuracy, increase patient safety, and reduce operating costs and administrative tasks.
  • Efficient note charting: Pre-built templates, text shortcuts, and note duplication all speed up note charting — while still letting you capture the depth of detail you need.
  • eLlab ordering: Integrated electronic lab ordering automates manual workflows and enables you to send and manage lab orders and results directly in the Tebra platform.
  • Digital charge capture creation: View your frequent codes, make notes and comments, track status, and send superbills in just a few clicks.
  • Patient communications: Simplify and improve the check-in process by sending patients their intake forms ahead of their appointments, saving time for both patients and staff.
  • MACRA/MIPS management: Quality dashboard and guided workflows to easily track your performance on MACRA and MIPS quality measures.
  • Simple point and click templates: Save time and increase convenience with customized templates tailored to suit your providers' clinical note preferences.
  • PDMP and EPCS monitoring: Electronically send new and existing patient prescriptions with EPCS to the patient’s preferred pharmacy in just a few clicks.
EHR explained: A guide to electronic healthcare systems (3)

Now that we've explored some of Tebra's key features, it's time to dig deeper. Specifically, how can these features translate into real-world improvements for small practice operations?

How can a great EHR system help small practice operations?

Independent practices face tight budgets, limited resources, and the pressure to deliver high-quality care. EHR companies with exceptional, fit-for-purpose EHR systems can help overcome all of these challenges and more.

If you're a small practice owner considering an EHR solution, the first step is exploring a list of EHR systems tailored to your specific needs and budget. This will help you compare features, pricing, and functionalities to find the perfect fit for your practice.

Small practice efficiency challenges

Reduced reliance on dedicated IT staff: It’s common for smaller practices to lack the resources for dedicated IT personnel. Cloud-based EHRs with intuitive interfaces minimize the need for extensive IT support and give staff more time to focus on patient care.

Scalability for fluctuating patient volume: Varying patient loads can be hard to manage, so flexible subscription models and modular functionality in EHRs allow practices to adjust their system seamlessly as needs evolve.

Automated reminders and follow-ups: Automations, such as medication refill prompts, help reduce patient no-shows and improve adherence, which maximizes efficiency with limited staff.

EHR system financial advantages

Decreased administrative costs: Automation saves time and reduces the need for additional administrative staff — equalling practice-wide cost savings.

Improved insurance coding and billing: Accurate and standardized documentation facilitates faster and more accurate insurance claims processing and improved cash flow.

Additional EHR benefits for specific specialties

Psychiatry: Track patient progress, manage medication adherence, and leverage secure messaging for confidential communication.

Dentists: Manage dental charts, track treatment progress, and integrate digital X-rays for improved diagnosis and communication with patients.

Urgent care: Optimize patient flow with efficient registration, triage tools, and streamlined documentation for faster diagnoses and treatment.

How should private practices choose an EHR?

Trent Carter, founder and nurse practitioner at Curednation, has some key advice for choosing the right EHR for private practices:

Assessing practice needs: Understand the unique workflows of the practice to identify areas where an EHR can enhance efficiency. Choose a system that can adapt to the evolving needs and potential growth of the practice.

User-friendly interface: Opt for an EHR system with an intuitive interface to minimize the learning curve for staff to reduce both training time and potential disruptions.

Integration capabilities: An EHR that seamlessly integrates with existing systems and technologies ensures a cohesive and connected healthcare environment.

Cost considerations: Beyond the initial investment, consider long-term costs — including maintenance, support, and potential upgrades.

Vendor reputation: Explore user reviews and testimonials to gauge the experiences of other practices with similar needs. Also, assess the EHR vendor's quality of customer support and ongoing assistance.

EHR features checklist

Choosing the right EHR system is crucial for making your operations run smoothly and enhancing patient care.

At Tebra, we know that common pain points in EHR systems include elements like excessive clicking, data transfer hassles, and lack of specialty-specific features.

“Choosing the right EHR system is crucial for making your operations run smoothly and enhancing patient care.”

With this in mind, this checklist is your go-to when you’re checking out potential EHR systems:

  • User-friendly interface: Look for features like pre-populated templates, text shortcuts, and drag-and-drop functionality for faster documentation.
  • Seamless patient record management: Integrated demographics, medical history, medications, allergies, immunizations, lab results, imaging reports, and progress notes.
  • Robust clinical decision support: Evidence-based guidelines, drug interaction alerts, and reminders for preventive care measures.
  • Secure messaging: HIPAA-compliant communication with patients and other healthcare providers.
  • eRx: Electronic prescriptions sent directly to pharmacies to reduce errors and delays.
  • Automated appointment scheduling and reminders: Online scheduling tools and automated appointment reminders for both patients and staff.
  • Reporting and analytics: Customizable reports for quality improvement, population health management, and financial tracking.
  • Interoperability: Ability to easily exchange data with other healthcare systems and laboratories.
  • Mobile access: Secure remote access to patient records and essential functionalities for improved flexibility and responsiveness.
  • Scalability: Choose a system that can grow with your practice and adapt to evolving needs.
  • Training opportunities: Look for a vendor that offers university classes.
  • Implementation and support: Consider the vendor's implementation process, ongoing support offerings, and responsiveness to user needs.
  • Cost and budget: Evaluate pricing models, subscription options, and potential hidden costs to ensure affordability within your budget.
  • MACRA/MIPS management: Check for features like automated MIPS reporting and tracking systems to keep your practice on track with earning the most in positive adjustments.
  • PDMP and eRx for controlled substances monitoring: Tebra's PDMP enables EPCS enrolled providers to query their state's PDMP when ePrescribing a controlled substance.
  • ONC certification: A cloud-based, ONC-certified EHR with easy-to-use documentation supports your staff’s entire workflow and makes the patient experience simpler.
EHR explained: A guide to electronic healthcare systems (4)

It’s also worth noting that EHRs that offer flexible, build-your-own treatment plans can help improve practice synchronization and kickstart comprehensive treatment options.

Build-your-own treatment plans enable clinical decision-making that guides patients toward their goals. Of course, better adherence to treatment plans means better outcomes and a higher percentage of collecting practice revenues.

Tebra Care Delivery is a modern, certified EHR solution designed to equip today’s provider with clinical tools that support rather than interfere with patient care. This includes all the innovative features your practice needs — from robust clinical charting and streamlined patient documentation to a comprehensive view of the patient and their history, eLabs, telehealth, and more.

EHR explained: A guide to electronic healthcare systems (2024)

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