Not long ago, we published another article on how to choose the right Electronic Medical Record (EMR) system for home health care. While we hope that this piece gave you a solid footing as far as making a software selection on your own, what it didn’t do was to outright name some of the quality solutions that are on the market today.
As part of a recent software selection project, we spent a significant amount of time helping a home health care organization vet nine different EMR packages to see which would be the best fit for their particular needs.
Ultimately, our impression is that the market for these solutions is extremely immature; there are lots of options out there, but few are actually viable. This makes it all the more critical to take the time to work through which packages are worth looking into.
Below we’ll work through reviews of the best EMR systems for home health care, along with a few red flags that you should be on the lookout for as you make your selection.
Reviews of the best Electronic Medical Record (EMR) systems for home health care
For the home health care industry in particular, there are two software packages that we feel are solid choices:
1. ClearCare. ClearCare is a true Software-as-a-Service (Saas), cloud-based application. The interface is slick and user-friendly—perhaps moreso than any other solution we’ve evaluated. Some notable features include automated email reminders, alerts for late clock-in and clock-out, verbal feedback on ADLs/IADLs, automatically integrated communications (email and text), and voice messaging for when caregivers clock in and out (to, for example, read through tasks and collect explanations for any that were not completed).
Some downsides to this solution are that you don’t have the ability to pay for any changes to the software (though you can offer “suggestions”). We’ve found that the alerting feature can be a touch overwhelming since there is no filtering capability, and the security and rights management is not terribly customizable (access can be granted to either the entire system, or to all but billing and payroll).
2. Soneto by Stratis. Soneto is not quite as flashy as ClearCare, but it’s a really solid application. On the architectural level, this system requires a local installation as opposed to a website login. This package has many of the same features as ClearCare, but sometimes not at the automated level. To see when credentials are expiring, for example, you can run a report and send the notice as an attachment to the appropriate caregiver. This function greatly improves the manual process, but it remains a manual process nonetheless.
Unlike ClearCare, Soneto allows you to request custom programming for your organization. If enough people request the same change, they’ll make the update at no charge to you. There’s also a very useful offline capability for this package, so nurses can still perform their assessments or state-of-care visits if they’re in a home without reliable Internet access.
A few red flags that indicate an EMR system probably isn’t the right choice
As we worked through the original 9 EMR options for our client, we came across several “red flags” that made us turn away from a solution altogether. A few of these are:
- The software is a start-up. You don’t want to base your operations in a fledgling solution. There will be bugs, there will be missing features, and there will be a lot of frustration on the part of your caregivers and your leadership alike.
- You cannot invoice directly from the software. Some solutions will “integrate” with accounting software like Quickbooks… but this means that you have to separately purchase Quickbooks in order to do any of your invoicing.
- Appointment acceptance is a free-for-all. It’s important to be able to alert your caregivers of an appointment, but it’s more important to have control over the scheduling process. If any caregiver can accept an appointment and have it immediately appear in their calendar, you’re going to be in for a headache.
- Interface is confusing. If you take your software package for a trial run and your gut reaction to the interface is either “ew” or “oh my gosh this is confusing,” you should move on to the next solution. Usability is critical if you want the system to really work for your staff.
So there you have it—a couple solid software choices, along with what we would consider deal-breakers as far as EMR systems go.
Above all, we would advise that you are careful to toe the line between choosing a software that meets your requirements, and changing your business processes to meet the software’s requirements. In other words, while some packages can be customized to your heart’s content, should you actually be evaluating your operations rather than trying to force-fit the package to your existing work model?
And, don’t hesitate to engage an outside resource to help you through this whole process; we know first-hand how long software selection projects can take, and it’s often more of a burden than an organization can shoulder on its own.