Finding the right EHR system is a crucial decision for an independent psychiatric practice. The right EHR will improve your practice’s efficiency, help you attest to Meaningful Use, improve patient communication and care, and provide medication management – ultimately stopping leaks in your practice’s revenue cycle and improving your bottom line.
How well a system ultimately meets the needs of an independent practice largely depends on how well the practice defines its needs and matches them before selecting a platform. A few functions you should look for:
24/7 Accessibility and Collaboration
Whether you’re at the office, the hospital, home or traveling, or what the day or hour, you need access to patient records. It’s especially critical when a patient is having an emergency. The ability to access your system outside of the office will allow physicians, staff and patients to access patient records in a secure environment so that better, faster care can be provided.
A cloud-based system provides that critical access. It stores data externally and can be accessed from anywhere, from multiple devices with an internet connection. There is no hardware or software installation required.
A client-server (local) EHR system severely limits access if you’re not at your office desktop, and tablets don’t interact well with EHR systems. These days, mental health practices are increasingly turning to cloud-based EHRs for this improved ease of use and accessibility.
No Training Fees
Training is crucial to an EHR system. You can’t be expected to know every function after just one week’s training that a server system typically offers. If you hire new employees, you’ll be charged for additional training, especially if you’ve had your lease for a while.
A cloud-based company provides all-included training whenever needed. You’ll have access to a library of webinars, pdfs, and other training materials – as well as on-site training sessions as needed. When you’re in crisis mode, your EHR techies can access your system remotely and provide exactly the support your staff needs right then.
Optimal Security Protection
Cloud companies typically have more sophisticated security measures and data protection. Web-based EHR systems deliver greater security than client-server systems and paper records do. Your data is protected 24/7 with bank-level security, with no risk of compromise – patient records are protected with encryption.
HIPAA regulations are paramount, and cloud-based systems are better able to meet these regulations by controlling access to sensitive information and allowing mental health practices to securely transfer records only to those with authorization.
With an internal server system, your practice could face serious interruptions (with no data access) during an internet outage, or due to software or user failures. For rural and small-town psychiatry practices, this is especially a risk. If patient information is co-mingled with other clients, your data could be compromised – depending on how astute your vendor was in setting up the system.
No Charge for IT Support, Backups, and Security
Solo and small group mental health practices find that cloud-based systems are overall more cost-effective. Hardware, training, backups, and security are integrated. Cloud-based systems get better support given that these IT services are included in the contract.
Via the cloud, the tech team can share your monitor to quickly identify problems and fix them. If your staff is having difficulty with charting, e-prescribing or Meaningful Use issues, they can be resolved within minutes. Practices pay a monthly fee, similar to a utility fee, but the overall costs associated with cloud-based servers are minimal in comparison, since there is a general reduction in the need and expense for your own IT resource.
Alternatively, with a server system, you won’t get included tech support – and the host controls your data. You’ve got no choice but to pay continual fees for maintenance, backups and security.
Simplified Scalability Makes Your System Flexible — Never Obsolete
Whereas a server system is outdated within just a few years, a cloud system is inherently contemporary. Small practices are able to expand without the standard growing pains. Every new enhancement can be pushed to all users, so you’re always getting the latest released updates to the system. You’ll never be out of date with a cloud-based system, as opposed to the planned obsolescence of a server system.
The scalability of a cloud-based EHR system allows your psychiatry practice to expand as your business grows. There’s no complicated overhead, no integration of several systems to make work together. You can add new doctors, patients, users and locations without extra expense or downtime.