Electronic Medical Record (EMR) systems are widely used in healthcare. They are modern charting tools that improve interoperability, and for large healthcare systems, incorporate into Electronic Health Record (EHR) tools to help maintain a patient’s health history.
In urgent care, EMRs are integrated with practice management (PM) software to not only complete charting, but also manage the door-to-door visit. Clinic workflows depend heavily on how well the system matches the visit types and integrates with other tools like patient engagement and business intelligence.
Ultimately, an urgent care can only be as efficient as their tools allow — especially their EMR/PM system.
Acute EMR systems cannot be modified to drive optimal workflow for urgent care patient visits, which hinder urgent care operations. Here are four reasons why.
With provider labor being the largest cost of running an urgent care, profitability is tied to how many patients per hour providers can see. Your system should work for your business, not against it.
This resource page covers high-level functionality and benefits of core tools that urgent cares use to improve the patient experience, solve operational challenges, optimize throughput and revenue, make impactful business decisions faster and more!
Okay, so you know you want something that supports your unique patient and practice flow. There are many nuances of software and service providers that separate urgent care software from similar systems. Here are some priorities to consider.
When bulky EMRs become cumbersome for urgent care providers, it takes the urgency out of urgent care. You need software with a documentation system geared toward a typical urgent care visit, minus all the extra clicks and options you’ll find with an all-purpose EMR. Some other important points here:
While simplicity saves clinicians and staff time and effort, the right EMR increases employee satisfaction and engagement — a huge advantage in a competitive job market.
Both administrative and clinical staff must be properly trained to get the full range of benefits from your EMR. Ask EMR vendors about their training programs. Do they have trainers on staff to help get clinic personnel up to speed during implementation? And is training included as a part of implementation or an additional cost? What about ongoing training? Whether online or on-site, continuous training ensures your staff stays up to date on software functionality. Here are some training options you should look for:
An urgent care EMR should have functionality to improve patient satisfaction, and work hand-in-hand with patient engagement solutions. If you haven’t thought
about electronic/online registration and wait time transparency, you should. With these patient-centric tools, patients can complete registration before they arrive at the clinic. Then at the clinic, include a simple check-in kiosk and queue display in the lobby that shows the order of patients. Add to this text-based appointment reminders, notifications about wait time, and secure notifications regarding the availability of lab results — and you not only engage your patients, you also build relationships.
Software that offers patients the ability to pay online, preauthorize credit card/debit card payments, or setup payment plans can not only improve the patient experience but also decrease collection time.
Urgent cares should look for a PM that includes functionality for pre-authorization of payments. Those who have implemented this into their practice have reported faster collections, reduced delinquent patient accounts, and improved patient satisfaction. Collecting credit card information at registration and storing it to the patient’s account can help make life easier for the patient, and for your billing staff.
Even in an urgent care environment where patients typically follow up with their primary care physician, communication should continue after the visit. Gauge patient satisfaction and encourage positive online reviews with a simple text-based, post-visit patient survey. One simple question about quality of service can send up a flag when a patient is dissatisfied and allow your staff to follow up with timely service recovery. This not only lets a patient know you care but discourages negative online reviews or word of mouth.
Another point of contact might be a web-based patient portal, which allows patients to log in and view private messages, lab reports, appointment details, or other documents from their doctor — all in a secure environment.
Choose an EMR built with your service line(s) in mind. With software designed to work with your typical patient scenarios, there’s no need to modify an EMR to fit your clinic’s workflow — saving you time and frustration. A one-size-fits-all EMR doesn’t really fit urgent care. Larger EMR vendors often focus on servicing hospitals and general practice clients — and don’t make EMRs to fit specialized medicine — nor are they focused on speed of documentation.
While partnership is not actually a feature, it’s essential to your successful urgent care operation. Many EMR vendors can provide workable software, but not all of them will understand the on-demand healthcare business, share your goals, or provide added support, insight, and flexibility to work with you toward your success. The EMR/PM vendor you choose should listen to your needs and deliver software and services that meets them. They should also understand your revenue cycle management process and provide support and guidance to be sure you’re doing everything you can on your side to keep your clinic in good financial shape.
As you consider different EMR vendors, think about what they offer in addition to software and if they have the flexibility to ensure your EMR works the way you do. And don’t limit your thinking to what you need now but include your aspirations for the future of your business. Can your partner make your growth as painless as possible and adapt as you adapt?
Remember, partnership doesn’t end with EMR implementation. It’s only the beginning of a relationship that grows with time and benefits both parties.
Urgent care is increasingly competitive. Making smart business decisions is so much easier when you have access to relevant, actionable data — ideally, this is readily available from your EMR/PM partner.
In today’s healthcare environment, we are inundated with data, beginning with the demographic information we collect from patients during registration. We collect more data at every step of the process including the most common complaints, the types of protocols we follow, and time spent per encounter. When pulled together, this data gives us power.
Your EMR should allow you to access and use this essential data. It should provide data in a way that makes sense for your business to help you react quickly, identify trends, and drill down to get specific actionable data that is relevant to your clinic.
With the right reporting tools, you have access to key performance indicators tied to visit volume, door-to-door times, revenue, collections, and patient sentiment — to evaluate where you excel or fall behind.
Constant improvement is a goal embedded within the core of every urgent care business. See what fine-tuning you can do to improve your efficiency, visibility, and patient experience. Get the eBook to grab:
Whether you’re in the process of adopting an EMR or would simply like to refine your existing EMR use, there are universal best practices that can help guide your adoption rate — no matter what EMR you’re using. As an EMR company, we’ve discovered some helpful tips throughout the years. Here are a few good rules of thumb to get the most from your EMR:
Most people start with the EMR itself, but we say start one step before that. Define your clinical workflow first. Then add your desired workflow for each patient scenario into the EMR. It’s the EMR’s job to work for you, not the other way around. Sure, you’ll need to update workflow when you add an EMR, but that doesn’t mean you need to lose efficiency.
On the contrary, an EMR should make you more efficient. You know how you want to practice medicine, so map out your existing workflow first. Focus on defining most common patient cases, then modify for outlying cases. Then ask yourself and your staff, “Are these the steps we need?”
Now, add your steps into your EMR. If you’re setting up your EMR for the first time, be aware configuration might take some time. But once you have your basic patient visit types, diagnosis lists, and prescription preferences in place, your visits will go more smoothly. If you’re auditing, this is a perfect time to examine procedures or documentation processes that you could cut (see previous step). Of course, choosing a flexible EMR that lets you customize steps is helpful, especially if your clinic has specialty services.
Learning a new EMR can be challenging. And every one of your staff learns differently. As mentioned earlier, make sure your EMR has a complete training program to get staff up to speed learning the different parts of your system.
In addition to having support from your EMR vendor, you should also designate advanced software users to help train staff. Advanced users can receive more in-depth EMR training — then share this knowledge quickly will other staff as questions arise. Having a training program — and advanced software users — is vital to ongoing efficient staff use of your EMR.
While similar to step 2, this step deserves specific call out. Provider templates are the basis for the entire EMR process. Setting up templates in the EMR means you can select each provider’s (or clinic’s) preferences for triage workflow through the chart. If you’re not creating templates, you’re not taking advantage of the EMR’s power of standardizing steps for staff.
You’ll spend more time (and frustration) filling out unique templates for each individual patient visit. Again, this is especially useful if your clinic has specialty services or programs. Stock templates are great to start, but real efficiency gains come from clinic (or provider) specific templates.
Let’s talk nitty-gritty. Who is going to do what? It helps your triage staff to know exactly what screens they are responsible for filling out in the EMR. Will the nurse do vitals? Will the provider document chief complaints? Will the medical assistant enter the lab results? Remember, to attest for Meaningful Use, a provider is required to fill out certain EMR sections versus a nurse or medical assistant.
Nothing slows down billing more than incomplete documentation. To keep your days to bill down, set a process for reviewing and completing charts in the EMR. Require providers to complete their charts before their shift is over. Use reminder alerts when possible. Have your head physician and medical director review charts — and send back to providers if updates or clarification is needed. Have a standard timeline and clear delegation for chart reviews, and stick to it.
The tips and descriptions above can help you think about the EMR/PM features that matter most to you. When it comes time for the final selection process, this checklist can ensure you come to the table with the right information and input to choose a winning system.
If you’re ready to talk to EMR/PM vendors, your next step is to explore the built-for-urgent-care system from Experity. Take a look at our solution page, watch the video, and when you’re ready, click the “Get Started” button to request a demo. We’ll tailor it to your specific needs so you can get down to the details that matter most to you. We don’t want a bad fit any more than you do. Let’s find out whether Experity will be the difference for you.