10 Most Effective Features of a Family Practice EHR

The family practice is the first point of treatment for most individuals who require healthcare.  This means their Electronic Health Records (EHR) needs to be robust in every way imaginable so that they can quickly document the details of each encounter without spending more time at the computer than with the actual patient.  But a family practice EHR not only needs to make documenting easy, it needs to be able to easily and securely communicate with other providers because they are the king of referral land, right?  And that's just the tip of the iceberg.  Let's take a deeper look at 10 features that every family care provider should look for in their EHR.

1. A Patient Timeline with Actionable Data

When you have a heavier patient load than most providers, you need to be able to get in and assess the patient's current health profile quickly so that you can understand their needs and communicate treatment plans effectively.  The right family practice EHR will allow you to quickly visualize clinical markers to glean the information you need.  You should also be able to easily view medications, encounter notes, order results, communications and other information you need without moving between tabs or having to spend time searching through the record. 

2. Interactive Summary with Graphing Capabilities

Family practice providers deal with numerous conditions and patient dynamics every day.  Having easy access to key clinical data about a patient's condition is directly related to the quality of care you provide. Having an interactive summary that allows you to quickly graph a patient's vitals, medications, lab results and more in a single screen would be an invaluable asset in the right EHR. Graphing capabilities provide an instant interpretation of whether the patient is improving or declining and provide much needed data for treatment decisions moving forward.

3. Mobile Application with Key Functionality

It's one thing for a family practice EHR to say it has a mobile application but having a mobile app doesn't necessarily mean anything unless it has key functionalities within it.  Sure, most of them will allow you to connect to your EHR from anywhere you have an internet connection.  However, not all of them have voice dictation that actually works well and allows you to easily finish charting.  Additionally, secure communications are more important than ever before with Meaningful Use (MU) and the Physician Quality Reporting System (PQRS) requirements.  Now add in mobile imaging so that you can upload images to patient charts and e-prescribing so that you aren't chained to your office desk when a patient needs a much-needed prescription and now you're looking at a good mobile app that actually improves the quality of your practice.  An extra feature that can have a huge impact on your practice is the ability to charge capture within a mobile app.  Now you don't have to worry about submitting those charges when you're on rounds because you can do that from your mobile app.  You might think these features are extra bells and whistles but you won't believe how much easier they make your life. 

4. Financial Dashboard to Easily Measure Productivity

Does your billing specialist have a hard time keeping up with his/her work thanks to constant interruptions by the provider for financial and productivity reports that are hard to run and even more hard to interpret?  Whether we like it or not, the business of a medical practice is just as important as the care you provide.  If you can't be productive enough, changes have to be made or ultimately the doors will close.  By having a financial dashboard that makes it easy to read and understand the business side of your practice, you'll reduce stress and know when changes need to be made.  Having easy to ready charts and graphs that explain what claims are un-submitted, missing insurance or rejected is incredibly valuable.  Additionally, being able to easily compare last month to this month and see how productivity measures up keeps all of the providers in your practice on their toes. 

5. Pediatric Growth Charts

Sometimes the family doctor also becomes the pediatrician.  Either you're certified in both specialties or the family has simply come to you for care so long that they trust you to care for their little one effectively.  That being said, times are different and these days parents are more concerned than ever about how their child's health statistics compare overall.  The right family practice EHR will include the function to easily produce growth charts with a simple click of the mouse.  Charts regarding weight, length and head circumference are important the first year or so.  Then it moves on to weight for age, stature for age, weight for stature and BMI.  Find an EHR that allows you to click and print these charts quickly for parents who are concerned.

6. Auto Default for Expediting Documentation

The ability to establish patient defaults will increase the efficiency of your practice greatly.  If a patient's history shows they come in every three months for a blood pressure check, then being able to load default settings and document via exception would be an incredible time saver that you should definitely seek out. 

7. Customized Templates to Practice Your Way

Family practice providers are similar yet different.  Being able to pick from numerous family care templates and even customize them to your own unique needs will allow you to follow the workflows you've already established.  One of the biggest complaints we hear from healthcare providers everywhere is that their EHR is clunky and hasn't improved their efficiency.  Customization is key to being able to continue practicing the way you feel most comfortable.

8. Easy Electronic Prescribing Functionality

Writing a prescription shouldn't be a nightmare. E-prescribing should take longer than pulling out your paper prescription pad and writing it out by hand.  Find an EHR that has an intuitive electronic prescription function that allows providers to quickly see contra indicators, frequently prescribed medications and pharmacy preferences in a single glance.  This will support a quick prescribing process that truly increases efficiency.

9. Electronic Charge Tickets

An effective family practice EHR should allow you to create superbills or charge tickets right in your workflow.  This will eliminate duplicate entries from your billing staff and result in expedited cash flow. Additionally, with new regulations coming down the line, make sure your PQRS, injection and other procedure codes can be incorporated to avoid overlooked codes during the charge entry process.

10. Meaningful Use Certification

At this stage in the game this feature should go without saying, but we're going to say it anyway.  Your EHR should make it easier than ever for you to maintain compliance.  Family practice providers are burdened by regulations and maintaining compliance can oftentimes contribute more money to your bottom line.  Find an EHR whose dashboard makes tracking and complying with MU straightforward and painless. 

These are the 10 features you should be looking for in a Family Practice EHR.  Let us know if you're a family care provider that has additional features you think are important!

About iSALUS Healthcare

At iSALUS Healthcare, our mission is to provide our Clients an affordable, fully-unified Electronic Health Records (EHR) and Practice Management solution through our cloud-based software solution. iSALUS provides industry-leading EHR and Billing Services solutions to thousands of physicians, hospitals and healthcare systems nationwide.