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The Right Choice

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By Angela Wilson Pennisi, PT, MS, OCS

Issues related to electronic medical records (EMR) and practice management systems may occupy more time and energy than most practice owners and managers would like. If you are in the process of selecting an EMR, evaluating the multitude of options can be overwhelming. A lot like dating, a single program will rarely possess all the desired qualities. In addition, your new EMR, like any potential life partner, is also likely to possess some undesirable qualities that you did not anticipate! (Of course, I am not speaking from experience since my husband is perfect, and I am sure he would say the same about me.)

If you were an early adopter, you may have already seen one EMR come and go in your practice, or maybe you are thinking of making a change due to new or anticipated needs in the future. Even if you are confident that your EMR is the one for you, just staying on top of all the newly released features can keep you on your toes.

Balancing the features of compliance, obtaining appropriate payment, addressing medical-legal concerns, and providing clinical decision-making support are just a few of the demands we make of our software. Never mind that our clinicians must also be able to use the program efficiently to keep their focus on patient care! We must pay attention to how our staff is interacting with the program and support them in learning something new—a struggle for many of us.

Finally, your EMR may have many bells and whistles to help you manage your practice more efficiently, saving you time rather than continuing to pile onto the issues you must address on a daily basis. Open it up, take a look under the hood and see what you have been missing.

This issue of Impact is your go-to resource for all things EMR. In addition to providing purchasing information and review of features, this issue also includes advice on how to pull information from your existing EMR that will make you more efficient in managing your practice, assist you with the logistics of implementing a new EMR, and keep your staff on board in the process.

Many times the decisions we make in our practices are black and white. Is it time to hire a new staff member? Should we participate with a particular insurance panel? Unfortunately, your EMR decision is more like deciding to get married. Are you selecting a partner that will support your practice as documentation requirements change, diagnosis and coding information is updated, and new integrations become available, for better or worse? Once you have made your decision, go ahead and ring those wedding bells, and cross your fingers that you will not find yourself in divorce court anytime soon! I just hope I have not taken all the romance out of your selection process.

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