If you’re researching the best EMR for a small practice — or in urgent care, one to two clinics — you’ll find a lot of comparison lists ranking different systems. And while these might be helpful, you run into three problems:
So it can be difficult to find informative resources that you can trust. That’s what we are aiming to provide here. To address the obvious, yes, we sell urgent-care-specific software. However, our goal is to fill in some of the gaps that other resources leave open.
In order to find the best EMR/PM for your practice, you need to account for the things that make you so different from larger, non-urgent care businesses. We hope this helps.
We recommend that you narrow your list down to three vendors and schedule a demo with each. We know you are busy, but much like “measure twice, cut once,” you’ll spare yourself time and agony later by putting in the work ahead of time.
TIP: Ask your prospective vendors if they have clients who are willing to talk to you, too. They probably aren’t being compensated for a rave review, so you can ask them specific questions about their experience and get an honest answer.
✅ We provide a checklist of pre-demo steps that will help you know exactly what you need to ask on a call here >>
Urgent cares need a partner who will treat their problems with the same priority as other customers. That can get hairy when you’re competing with larger systems like hospitals.
But timely support isn’t the only consideration here. While many EHR vendors have a small team dedicated to urgent care, there are fewer resources available for product updates. So when something like a pandemic turns healthcare upside-down, you likely will have to wait longer to get feature updates that help you in your specific situation.
EHR companies also tend to have EMR/PMs with extraneous fields and inefficient workflows for urgent care because they must also work for other types of practices. This can mean you spend more time entering data into the system, leaving you less time to focus on patients.
Our page on How to Choose the Best EMR for Urgent Care covers this topic in great detail, including:
Price tag seems to be one of the topmost considerations in lists geared towards smaller practices. Which makes sense. You don’t have the budget that an enterprise business has.
But be careful: a low price doesn’t always equate to saving money. Some of the least expensive options are from those companies whose revenue primarily comes from EHRs and large systems. The real number you need to focus on is the total cost — which means factoring your ROI. Here are some important points to consider.
Of everything that impacts your revenue, the number of patients you can see in a day is high on the list. If you have so many patients waiting that you can’t get to them all, you’re losing money. But even if you don’t have too many patients to see in a day, you need to make sure their experience is positive enough to return. Keeping existing patients is important to your revenue.
From an EMR/PM standpoint, you want a system that lets you work quickly while also minimizing the potential for errors and making the process as easy as possible for your patients. If your system is clunky, requires a lot of clicking and switching between panes, etc., these are time-consuming factors that add up.
For example, if charting takes your providers an average of four to five minutes, an urgent-care specific EMR can reduce that time to about 45 seconds. If you see 30 patients a day, cutting out about 3 minutes from charting saves you 90 minutes. And if your workflow is efficient enough that your door-to-door time is 45 minutes, that alone gives you time for two more patients.
Speaking of door-to-door time, the registration process is one of the most time-consuming parts of the patient journey. While patient engagement (PE) software can make a huge difference here, your PM (practice management) still plays a significant role — especially if you don’t have the budget for extra software. Even without the pre-registration capabilities of PE, your PM could reduce your registration time to around two minutes.
This not only allows more time for more patients, it contributes to a better patient experience. Always ask how the system you’re reviewing contributes to workflow efficiencies that matter to you.
TIP: If you choose an EMR that does not have urgent-care-specific fields, prompts, and workflows, make sure you have solid standard operating procedures (SOPs) in place to help ensure consistency. It may not save you time from data entry, but it can help save you a lot of rework.
As a small practice, you’re relying on one (or maybe two) sources for revenue, so if there any leaks in the rev cycle, you feel them. And if you’re losing money, that directly impacts your ability to not only grow, but also provide growth opportunities for the employees you depend on.
If you’re a busy practice, maybe it makes financial sense to use a third-party billing entity. But chances are good your internal staff is responsible for all billing-related tasks. So here are some features you should look for out-of-the-box.
Real-time Insurance Verification (RTV)/Real-time Insurance Eligibility (RTE). This tells you before the exam whether insurance will cover the visit, and by how much. You have the immediate opportunity to set up a payment plan the patient can afford (if needed,) which means you’re more likely to get paid.
Credit Card on File. This isn’t just a card on file for the day of the visit. Keeping patients’ cards on file and associated with their accounts helps you get paid faster, and the patient has less to manage after the visit. Simply ask the patient if they want the balance applied to the credit card after the insurance has gone through.
Balance-due Text Reminders. Automated texts sent to patients reminding them of their balances and providing links to pay with a click right from their mobile device can help you collect payments twice as fast.
Built-in Coding. Accurate coding is essential to your urgent care’s financial success. If your software simplifies the coding process and suggests accurate E/M codes based on each patient encounter, you avoid missing revenue opportunities and delaying payment because of incorrect or incomplete submissions. A well-designed EMR will also alert the clinician if there are issues with documentation that might affect billing to prevent potential claims denials.
Remember, when it comes to billing, you will make the most money when your visits are coded accurately, claims are clean, and patients are able to pay their bills. These impact your total cost when considering a system.
TIP: If your EMR does not help you code urgent care visits accurately, it’s extra important to provide help to front desk/billing staff and providers to ensure they understand proper coding. Check out our hub on coding resources, and download the coding cheat sheets for COVID and SDoH.
Smaller practices tend to do a lot on their own, like billing, marketing, and analytics. That’s very significant considering labor (specifically provider) wages are your biggest business costs. If your EMR/PM has features like those described above, it can save you a ton of labor doing rework, chasing down payments, and dealing with denials and rejections. But that’s not all your system should help with.
The staff you have should be engaged in value-added tasks. Duplicative entry, rework, clunky interfaces, and manual tasks that could be automated don’t just add time to the patient experience. They also force your employees to spend time away from the most important parts of the job. Your system may not only make some labor faster, but also unnecessary — meaning you could reduce some staff hours altogether.
If you’re interested in learning how to work with a leaner staff, check out our eBook 6 Urgent Care Staffing Strategies to Protect Your Bottom Line >>
The last thing we want to address that might not be covered in comparison lists is your future growth. For example, OccMed is a common service line for urgent cares to offer to make more revenue. Not all EMRs are set up to support that, which means higher costs for you if you ever want to add it to your repertoire.
Similarly, if you want to add on more tech (e.g., patient engagement,) the least costly option for you will be to use a system that is built to integrate seamlessly. Mix and matching vendor tech is rarely perfect, so if you’re goal is to grow, make sure you consider a single vendor that can support your business needs now and down the road.
FINAL TIP: Ask your potential vendors for an ROI so you can compare them all!
Will Experity make your final three? Check out our product page, and when you’re ready, schedule a demo.