How to Choose the Right EMR System for Home Health Care

For the home health care industry in particular, properly and intelligently managing your clients, caregivers, and medical records is absolutely critical to the success of your mission and the quality of the care you’re providing.
This, by extension, means that the Electronic Medical Record (EMR) system you select to perform that very function has to be very deliberately and very carefully selected to fill your organization’s unique needs.
When it comes time to actually work through the selection process, however, where are you even supposed to begin?
While our organization serves the IT needs of a number of different industries in the DC metro area, we’ve had the opportunity to become quite familiar with the home health care industry in particular, and how a strategic approach to technology can revolutionize operations in a big way. As part of our consulting work with these organizations, we’ve worked through quite a few software selection projects, and have learned precisely what it takes to choose the right EMR system.
Below we’ll walk through the key elements to consider when it comes to choosing an EMR system for your home health care organization, along with some specific questions that you should be asking along the way.

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What to look for in an Electronic Medical Record (EMR) system

When it comes to selecting the right EMR system for your organization, here are key elements that will help differentiate the solutions out there. As you work through the list, you’ll need to decide whether each particular feature is a must-have, whether you would prefer it but could do without it, or whether it makes no difference one way or the other.

  • Service model. Is the system set up to support the type of service you provide, whether it's skilled or unskilled? Agency? Registry?
  • Scheduling. How intuitive is the scheduling mechanism? Will it take you or your staff a substantial amount of time to reconcile the schedule each week?
  • Tracking capabilities. How easy is it for you to keep track of caregiver inservices and certifications? Arrival times to appointments? Can you see if your caregivers are completing activities of daily living (ADLs) on site?
  • Notifications. Will the system notify you if your caregivers are late for appointments? How?
  • Blast messaging. Are you able to mass text all of your caregivers from within the EMR system?
  • Client management. How easy is it for you to see changes in client status? Is the interface user-friendly, or do you have to go digging for that information?
  • Reporting. Can you easily export data to help inform your business decisions (i.e., how many hours a week you are billing, how many caregivers with specific certifications are available within a given week, what referral sources are your most profitable)?
  • Payment.  Will the system support the kind of payments you accept, whether it's private pay, payments from insurance, Medicare, or split-pay? If you deal with CMS-1500, will the system invoice and print on the appropriate paper?
  • Permissions. Are you able to restrict permissions and access? To what extent?
  • Compliance. Will the system help with larger-scale HIPAA compliance initiatives? How?

A good way to approach the selection process it to create a matrix (chart) with the factors that are most important to you. Write out what your ideal solution would look like, and record how the different solutions stack up. Have the providers run demos for your decision-makers. Get a feel for what it would be like to use the solution in practice, not just in theory.
If it all seems a bit overwhelming to you, don’t worry: there are plenty of resources out there that can work with you to manage the selection process, and facilitate implementation once you decide on a solution together.
It may mean an additional investment for you in the short-term, but in the long run, the efficiencies that will flow naturally out of a solid EMR solution will more than make up for it.
Remember: more efficient processes translate to increased capacity, profitability, and—most importantly—better client care.

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Topics: review, reviews, selection, software