A Guide To Choosing A Future-Proof Health Information System
If you’ve recently opened a medical clinic or you are planning to do so, your next step is choosing the right healthcare information system. The quality of your interface determines how smoothly your practice will function. Click here for a guide to choosing future-proof health information system.
The adoption of health information technology is growing exponentially, and over 90 percent of US hospitals and practitioners are using electronic medical records (EMR) systems.
This growth has also benefited IT developers. Now, there over 600 certified health IT developers supplying technology to over 350,000 physicians. With hundreds of options available, finding a patient and practice centric health information system (HIS) takes a bit of work.
How exactly do you find the right system?
Apart from the features, you need to pay attention to the customization and scalability of the system. It should guarantee your practice’s privacy, confidentiality, and security. The system should support integrations to ensure seamless transcription, voice recognition, and digital dictation.
Well, if you’re unsure about finding a system that brings new levels of efficiency, innovation, and information to your practice, this post is here to help you.
Let’s get right into it!
Determine Your Practice’s Needs
Evolution of healthcare is imminent, and this means your practice needs to adapt to the latest developments. Such changes impact how you treat your patients and handle their records. Also, they define your current and future needs.
For that reason, your choice of the HIS system should be based on your overall needs. Today, it’s easy to access information at a moment’s notice. Physicians can access cloud-stored records while patients’ can view their data on connected devices.
This IT development comes with a risk. Ideally, it creates opportunities for data breaches. That being the case, your focus should be to identify a vendor that can meet your security needs. They should be able to secure your data and prevent attacks.
Another critical need is mobile optimization. Mobile technology is growing, too. The use of smartphones and tablets is pervasive in healthcare organizations. Physicians can now access their patients’ data on the go. The right HIS should be able to adapt to future mobile technology developments.
Patient engagement is crucial in every practice. Your ability to inform patients and to remind them of their appointment matters. A great system should make it easy for you to stay engaged with your patients.
Preparation is Important
Now, you have a list of your potential needs. But, have you determine the functions that you need the health information system to complete?
The essential functions that you’ll need now and in the future include:
- Patient billing
- Order entry
- Clinical charting
- Patient access
- Theatre management
- General documentation
A system that offers all of these functions will improve efficiency and service delivery in your practice. It should also allow you to update the functions as needed as your practice grows.
Determine what data elements the system will capture, store, and update. Also, assess and review your current data to identify what will be moved to your new system. If possible, analyze your growth to figure out your expected number of patients and volume of data.
If you need remote access to your data, be sure to pick a system that supports this functionality.
Involve Your Team
The truth is, you’re not going to use the system alone. You may be familiar with all the aspects of your practice’s operations and budget, but you may never know what happens on the front lines.
So, work with your IT department, support staff, nurses, and other employees who will be using the new system. Ask them to about their departmental workflows and some of the limitations they encounter with the current system.
If possible create a team that includes physicians, nurses, and other support staff providers to help in selecting the system. You’ll be surprised to see the kind of valuable information they will share with you.
Identify Viable Options and Request Information
At this point, you want to create a list of the potential health information systems. Be sure to consider proven solutions that participate in the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) Health IT Certification Program.
Use any resources you have, such as peers, professional associations, and regional extension centers, to get recommendations for the ideal system. The internet is also a great source of information, but it can be somewhat overwhelming for not-so-savvy users.
Instead, it’s wise to talk to colleagues and physicians who have had an experience with different HIS options. Also, just because your competitors use a particular system doesn’t mean it applies to your practice.
Once you have a list of about ten potential systems, send a request for information to the vendors. Be sure to include your HIS goals and type of practice you run. This information is relevant to the vendors to help them determine if their solution will be ideal for you.
Review the Features
Using the information you received from vendors, take the time to review individual features of their system. This is important because many practices are usually dissatisfied with their HIS because they lack the key features they need.
For example, the system should be able to streamline your workflow to boost your productivity and profitability. It should have a scheduling feature that allows for easy appointment setting, patient alerts, and automatic authorization requests.
The software should offer a registration system for accurate data collection and verification. The form should allow patients to leave their electronic signatures if possible. Plus, your staff should be able to access these electronic forms with ease.
Medical billing and collection are also other key features to consider. A great HIS should make it easy to manage electronic patient and insurance payments. You should be able to create an automated collection queue for follow-up. You can visit http://www.medinformatix.com/ to review these features.
Don’t forget reporting and analytics features. These tools play a critical role in improving your patient’s experience. You can check your data in real-time to ensure timely service to all patients.
A system that offers patient portal is also great. This will allow your patients to submit information and request appointments. Also, it will expedite communications as you can message them through the system.
Third Party Integration
As health IT grows, hospitals and practices are becoming more data-driven. This means physicians will spend less time to gather information on patients from different sources.
With that in mind, be sure to pick a health information system that supports third-party integrations. This will allow you to access patients’ lab reports, medical histories, and prescriptions from different sources.
You may not need to carry out specific tests when onboarding a new patient because their information and reports already exist. All you need to do is to integrate your system to those third-party sources to access the data.
Also, it should support integrations with different departments in your practice. Other doctors and support staff should be able to access accurate data in the format that they can understand well.
Review the Overall Cost
First, remember to compare the prices offered by different vendors. Of course, you can expect them to vary broadly depending on the unique features of the system and your needs.
Be sure to know how much it will cost you to set up the system. The vendor should tell you whether you will need to pay for updates and data migration. The should give you upfront fees for using the system. Also, determine if you will need to pay for support.
You are likely to incur other costs due to function modifications, data conversion programs, and system interfaces. For these needs, be sure to discuss them with your vendor to determine their costs. For large practices with IT staff, some of this work can be completed in-house.
You may also need additional hardware to support your new system. This can be servers, laptop/desktop computers, mobile devices, and data/power transmission lines.
The last thing you want is to scramble to get in touch with support whenever you need help. It’s imperative for the vendor to provide an array of technical support services
Check their availability to find out when they are reachable for support. Their hours, days, and time zone should match your needs. Their responsiveness also matter. This is important when you have urgent support requests that need resolutions.
You should also inquire if they offer disaster support. This is crucial when you experience a significant unplanned downtime. You’d want to avoid service interruptions, particularly regarding direct patient care.
The vendor must offer multiple support channels and contact modes for reaching out to them. This can be through a call, email, support tickets, or chat. If possible, they should offer remote help. This is the ability of the vendor to diagnose and investigate problems remotely.
Health Information System – Make the Right Choice
Picking a future-proof HIS is crucial to the success and growth of your practice. Most importantly, it helps to improve your patient care and saves time by eliminating unnecessary processes.
So, when looking for a health information system, be sure to consider all the factors this post covers. Work with your IT department and schedule demonstrations with vendors to make sound decisions. Also, ensure the system is user-friendly to save time on training your team.
Do you have any thoughts or ideas on selecting a HIS system? Let’s us know in the comments! You can also read our guide on how to start a medical business.