Electronic health record (EHR) systems became a focus of policymakers and industry leaders on the promise that they would streamline the practice of healthcare and deliver significant savings to practitioners and better patient care.
That remains a work in progress. The earliest generations of EHR systems have helped address issues for individual offices or small networks but have shown limitations at scale. However, the evolution of technology is enabling the promise of EHRs to take the next big step.
The advent of cloud-based, multi-location EHRs is enabling practices to grow bigger while providing for cost-saving efficiencies and standardized processes to support excellent patient care and service.
Some EHRs, however, offer the promise but not the reality of multi-location support. Here are signs that your EHR isn’t actually multi-location.
1. Patients Must Schedule Appointments the Old-Fashioned Way
One of the major benefits of a large multi-site practice is the ability to provide patients with the flexibility to choose where and when they want to receive care. Having locations near where patients live and work provides greater convenience and encourages greater interaction. It also enables practice owners to grow their base of patients, hopefully translating into more revenue and increased patient satisfaction.
But more locations won’t necessarily deliver those benefits if you are offering a legacy model in areas such as appointment scheduling. An obvious sign that an EHR isn’t multi-location is when patients have to contact each office individually, by phone, to schedule their appointments.
True multi-location EHRs have scheduling modules that enable patients to make their own appointments online. Individual doctors can keep their schedules up to date so patients can keep track of who has appointments open and when.
Scheduling flexibility and putting the patient in charge for maximum convenience are key benefits of a true multi-location EHR.
2. Each Location Requires a Separate IT Installation
Increasing redundant costs for information technology (IT) is another sign that your EHR isn’t multi-location.
True multi-location EHRs are cloud based. Individual offices connect to the application via the internet, not by tapping into an on-site database in the local office.
Data and information get uploaded to the cloud system, where they are backed up by your EHR provider. The provider carries the burden and expense of computer servers, software upgrades, and information security.
Cloud-based systems are also ideal for expanding your practice in a cost-effective way. As you bring more locations online, you can easily connect them to your cloud-based EHR system.
Your system isn’t multi-location if you must install and update computer equipment—the same computer equipment—at every location. This drives up costs and enables inefficiencies to creep into the system.