Do You Need Both an EHR and a Practice Management System?

There are a surplus of practice management system and electronic medical/health record systems available to healthcare providers. Because of this (not-so-well-differentiated) variety and a lack of availability or accessibility to information about them, confusion often arises, making it even more challenging for practices to choose the right product to streamline their operations. Because they’re likely focused on their patients, it would be fair to assume that most doctors are not all that aware of the differences at hand, so we wanted to lay them out in order to help you choose the right product to meet your practice’s goals.

Practice Management System and EHR

How Does Practice Management Software Help Providers?

Medical practice management system (PMS) is designed to streamline the administrative workflow of your practice. PMS allows you to electronically organize appointments, schedule tasks on a daily, weekly or monthly basis, set meeting reminders and much more in order to reduce the workload of your administrative staff so they can focus on more pressing tasks.

Data collection and the reuse of data is another feature of practice management systems to consider. Available data may include patient name, demographics, insurance coverage details, and contact information. For a new patient, the staff only has to enter patient data in the patient information form in PMS once and then they’ll have it accessible for use for the next visit and so on. This saves your practice from a lot of paperwork.

Report creation and data analysis features within practice management software systems offer easy to understand reports as a way to analyze the overall performance of the practice, including access to financial details on daily, weekly or monthly basis. It helps to identify the loop-holes so you can rectify them for better performance.

System Architecture of PMS:

Practice management software is designed in three types of system architectures:

  1. Desktop Software
  2. Web-based Software
  3. Client/Server Software

Desktop practice management software is designed for small practices that only use one computer. This system allows the staff to manage the operations electronically which saves them time. Web-based medical practice management is commonly used by most practices. In this system, the PMS is hosted on a remote server and managed by a specialized IT company. Every doctor of the same practice can access the system through the internet to organize the tasks appropriately. Practice Pro is a good example of web-based medical practice management software. The working of a client/server model is quite similar to the web-based model but in this scenario, the server is located within the premises of the practice.

What is an Electronic Health Record (EHR)?

The workings of electronic health records is more patient-centric. EHR’s are capable of storing complete patient details including the allergies, disease codes, treatment and lab reports that are used throughout the treatment journey of the patient. Electronic health records are quite different from practice management systems as they allow you to transfer or refer complete patient details with specialists or laboratories outside your practice.

The Federal department of health and human services promotes the use of EHRs because they improve the healthcare standards and make the treatment journey a smooth one. For this reason, the Federal Government implemented the HITECH act which incentivizes doctors for using an EHR within their practice. It is an essential factor to meet the Federal meaningful use standards.

So which one should I implement for my practice?

It’s time to analyze the workflow of your practice to narrow down the issues you’d like to address, and then match them with the functionality of these systems. If you are facing administrative issues – like  maybe staff is spending too much time scheduling meetings and filling patient forms, or you need overall performance reports of your practice – then it’s possible a practice management system is the complete solution for you. If you want to make your practice paperless, improve the patient treatment cycle or need to meet the meaningful use standards, then EHR software will likely help you meet those goals. You can also divide the digitalization of your practice into two steps. First, start by using a practice management system to streamline the workflow. Then, integrate the EHR functionality into the same system to take your practice to the next level.