If you’re looking for ways to use technology to improve efficiency and productivity within your healthcare practice, you’ve likely researched popular options like practice management software and electronic health records (EHR) systems. You may be confused by which features and functionality practice management and EHR systems have. Maybe you’ve even noticed they have a lot in common, as both technologically advanced solutions can benefit your practice by storing and organizing important health information in digital format. But while both can improve your office, each one has a different focus that you should know about before you decide how to implement them. Here’s what to know about what sets practice management software apart from EHR systems.
What Is Practice Management Software?
Simply put, practice management software has a focus on making administrative and office work easier for healthcare providers. When you employ this type of tool, your office staff will get help with all the day-to-day tasks that go into keeping a healthcare office running efficiently. Though it does handle some patient information, most of the features you’ll find in practice management software are focused on the scheduling and medical billing needed for a physician's office.
For example, the average practice management software can usually help with the following tasks:
- Scheduling appointments
- Sending appointment reminders
- Checking patients in
- Verifying health insurance
- Processing claims
- Tracking patient balances
- Billing patients and health insurance
- Running operations reports
- Recalling patients
Some practice management software even features patient portals, which can improve patient engagement while also increasing productivity in the office. In general, the point of practice management software is to streamline administrative tasks, which can allow healthcare providers more time to take on additional patients—improving their bottom line. This type of software focuses less on patient medical history and more on managing the business as a whole. As such, while it might capture the demographics of patients, it won’t record and share each patient’s medical history. That’s better left to other tools, like electronic health records.
What Is EHR?
The point of electronic health records (EHR) or electronic medical records (EMRs) is to document and store patient medical information in digital format rather than using paper charts. The electronic format keeps important patient health information better organized, more legible, reportable, and easier for health professionals to access from anywhere.
In fact, one of the main purposes of an EHR is to make it possible for multiple doctors at different practices to view a patient’s health information at any time. Examples of medical facilities that might want to see a patient’s EHR include labs, pharmacies, medical imaging facilities, urgent cares, emergency rooms, specialists, and nurses at schools and workplaces. The ability of the entire medical team to have quick access to a patient’s medical history can have a major impact on health outcomes.
After all, an EHR usually contains the following information about each patient:
- Patient demographics
- Medical history
- Immunization dates
- Patient medical and surgical history
- Family history
- Radiology results
- Lab and test results
- Diagnoses and assessments
- Treatment plans
- Chart notes
The ability for an entire medical team to view all this information can help in various ways, from reducing the chances of giving redundant medical tests to increasing the speed and accuracy of diagnoses and treatment plans. In addition, some EHR systems have extra features that complement the storage of patient information, such as automated billing and patient care instructions. This is why nearly 9 in 10 doctor offices use an EHR system.
Which System Your Practice Need?
The main difference between practice management software and EHR is that the former takes care of the administrative side of the healthcare office, while the latter focuses on the clinical side. Practice management software is used for keeping the facility management records organized in digital format and does not need to be shared outside the office. By contrast, EHR systems are used for keeping individual patient records and are meant to be shared with other medical professionals.
So, which tasks do you need help with? If you’re thinking both, you’re not alone. Most healthcare providers could use a lot of help with the administrative and clinical side of managing a healthcare office. For this reason, instead of deciding between the two, you should use both types of tools in your office. Just make sure the two are compatible with each other if you want a seamless experience for the office staff and medical professionals who will be using these tools.
Fortunately, some vendors offer both practice management software and EHR systems that are easily integrated with each other. So if you have the option to get these as a package from one vendor, this is often the best choice to get the comprehensive assistance you need for both administrative and clinical tasks in your healthcare office. Often times deciding on the same vendor for both practice management and EHR system makes the process of integration much easier.
In fact, at TempDev, we offer help implementing and customizing both practice management software and EHR systems. So if you’re interested in adding both of these tools to your office, contact us today at 888.TEMP.DEV to learn how we can help!