Health information technology has enormous potential to improve healthcare quality, increase efficiency, support decision-making, and provide patients with access to their own health history. However, finding the right electronic health record, or EHR system, requires careful analysis. That is why it is best to start with the basics and then drill down and look at the different types of EHRs and choose the right system to improve your practice management.
What is an EHR? And How Does It Compare to an EMR?
According to HIMSS Analytics, “The EHR represents the ability to easily share medical information among stakeholders and to have a patient’s information follow him or her through the various modalities of care engaged by that individual.”
In other words, electronic health record systems provide a portable data storage and sharing framework that tracks the entire patient journey, including visits to various providers along the way. EHR software typically documents patient details including:
- Demographic information
- Lab results and radiology reports
- Billing and insurance information
Today, a medical practice can choose from a variety of EHRs. But before diving into the different types of EHR systems, it is important to first understand the difference between an EHR and an Electronic Medical Records (EMR).
EHR vs EMR: A Definition
EMRs replace paper charts in a provider’s office with a digital version, while the EHR provides a more holistic view into a patient’s complete medical history, with user interfaces that include documentation from other providers, labs, and pharmacies across the country.
The key difference between the two is interoperability, or the ability to share data with multiple other systems. According to the National Alliance for Health Information Technology, EHR data “can be created, managed, and consulted by authorized clinicians and staff across more than one healthcare organization.”
Another significant difference between the two systems is that an EHR also provides patients access to their own records through patient portals. This is especially important since the 21st Century Cures Act requires that patients have free access to all electronic Protected Health Information (ePHI) under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).
Remotely Hosted EHR Systems
One of the many benefits of today’s EHR solutions is remote-hosting. That means a lot less burden for providers since all data and system maintenance is managed by a third-party EHR vendor. Since the hosting is cloud-based, the EHR is accessible via an internet connection. That means that users can access the EHR from nearly anywhere at any time. This remote capability is a huge benefit for busy providers. Other benefits of working with a trustworthy EHR vendor include:
- Compliance – Servers are HIPAA-compliant, including data encryption capabilities
- Reliability – Reputable EHR vendors will have strong internet connections, excellent backup procedures, and disaster mitigation plans
- Reduced burden – IT professionals who have experience working with EHR servers and follow strict guidelines allow your team to focus on other areas
- Convenience – Offsite server storage saves space and can be scaled to your organization’s changing needs
Different Types of Remotely Hosted EHR Systems
Remotely-hosted EHR systems come in three different varieties:
Subsidized Remotely Hosted Systems
Typically, a subsidized system is used by physicians who are given access to the EHR at a larger facility, such as a hospital. The primary benefit of this system is that costs are subsidized by the hospital or large practice. The downside is that doctors lose control and ownership of the patient data.
Dedicated Remotely Hosted Systems
In this system, physicians rely on a vendor’s server for the EHR. While physicians still do not control the data, they do know where it is stored.
Cloud-Based Remotely Hosted Systems
Of all the different types of EHR systems, the most common type is cloud-based. In this system, external vendors store data securely in the cloud. This solution is convenient for users because they can easily access the EHR anytime and anywhere with an internet connection.
Summary: Choosing the Right EHR
Most healthcare facilities require an information technology solution for interoperability requirements. The good news is that EHR’s help to meet those requirements and provide a multitude of advantages to providers and patients alike. Streamlined workflows, accurate and timely billing, and improved patient outcomes are just a few of the benefits. If you have clear goals for your EHR, you should be able to find the solution that works best for your practice.
Medical Advantage Can Help
Medical Advantage’s EHR consultants have been helping medical organizations navigate the EHR selection and implementation process for decades and with a track record of success. Our healthcare solutions include:
- EHR optimization
- EHR migration
- Go-live support
- EHR training and support
- EHR help desk with Q&A support
Our consultants focus on efficiency, best practices in interoperability, patient engagement, and maximizing revenue. Take the first step towards finding your ideal EHR system by filling out the form below!