As an independent medical practice, you need to take advantage of every available efficiency to survive and thrive. One lesson we all learned during the pandemic was that telemedicine can be an efficient way of delivering certain types of virtual care, especially for patients with immune disorders, as well as those with transportation, distance, location or mobility issues.
Some practices may have been held back from achieving full efficiency, however, because they experienced difficulty in integrating telemedicine results with their Electronic Health Records (EHR). They may have found they could not easily enter data during the course of the telehealth visit, or that they were required to take extra steps to access reports and update patient files. This may have lengthened the visit, added an additional layer of administrative tasks, and frustrated both patient and provider.
The need for telehealth EHR integration has been shown to be extremely important. As more independent practices come to rely on EHR software as part of their everyday clinical routine, they should also make sure it works efficiently with their telemedicine capabilities. This article looks at how private practice can integrate EHR technology for more efficient telemedicine visits.
What is EHR and Telemedicine?
Before going into the specifics of telehealth EHR integration, let’s first look at some definitions we will use in this article:
Electronic Medical Record (EMR)
An EMR deals with an individual patient’s medical records as they pertain to one provider or procedure. Information in the record is generally not shared outside the practice.
Electronic Health Records (EHR)
An EHR system features interoperability functions which make it capable of sharing and receiving data with multiple healthcare providers or clinicians. The EHR may also contain tools that assist the primary care provider in decision-making, or a Patient Portal to facilitate electronic communications.
Telemedicine helps practitioners use technology to efficiently deliver care at a distance. A provider in one location uses telemedicine software to deliver care to a patient at a distant site. The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), in fact, supports expanded use of telemedicine as an appropriate and efficient means of improving health given, of course, that it is conducted within the context of appropriate care standards.
Telehealth is different from telemedicine because it refers to a broader scope of remote health care services.
The terms EMR and EHR, or telemedicine and telehealth, are used somewhat interchangeably. While the exact terminology might not be crucial, there can be different software systems to support these capabilities within a given practice. Problems begin, however, if the charting software and virtual care software are not capable of working seamlessly with each other. Telehealth EHR integration can help private practices make the most of both technologies, which can also improve clinical workflows. When used together, telehealth and EHR software can significantly improve a practice’s care delivery system.
What are the Benefits of EHRs for Today and Tomorrow?
The use of EHRs has proven to be a boon for private medical practices. Some of the many benefits that can be achieved include:
- More accurate charting capabilities
- Reduced administrative burden
- Easy to find specific patient information
- Improved scheduling management and practice workflow
- Better prescription management with e-Prescribing
- Patient portal to exchange messages, and share visit summaries, test results or educational materials
- Provider access from all types of devices
- Interoperability with specialists, labs, and outside providers
The benefits of integrating EHR software with telemedicine services include:
- Less duplication of input, as providers can enter information directly into the EHR during the telemedicine visit.
- Using an integrated system provides easier access to complete patient medical records
- Providers have real-time access to patient information during virtual care activities, which improves their clinical decision-making.
- Better access to pertinent patient information improves care coordination among all providers.
- Enhanced preventive care and chronic care management
- Verify insurance eligibility before telemedicine services are provided
- Improved documentation for billing purposes
The continued push toward improved EHR and telemedicine capabilities is designed to drive better patient outcomes. Giving primary care providers and their medical support team access to a complete array of patient information and communication tools, leads to long-term improvement in the approach to patient care.
How to Efficiently Integrate EHR and Telehealth Capabilities
Steps your private practice can take to integrate your EHR technology for more efficient telemedicine visits include:
Create Customized Telemedicine Templates
Sometimes providers don’t realize how much of an in-person visit is automated just because they are in front of a patient. With telemedicine, create customized templates to make sure you don’t forget any important elements of the interaction.
Keep Billing Notes
Payers may require specific information for telemedicine payment claims. Use the template to provide prompts that help create proper supporting documentation for medical coding and billing team members.
Use Reports and Analytics
Identify patients who have not had recent in-person or virtual care, keep up with patients who have chronic care conditions to ensure home compliance, and look for opportunities to schedule necessary screenings and lab visits.
Integrate Telehealth and Interoperability
For an even higher level of care, make sure providers have access to any data from remote monitoring devices, lab reports, and images, as well as information from any outside specialist visits.
Always take extra steps to ensure patient confidentiality. Conduct any telemedicine visits from a private location, and ask the patient if they give consent to provide information to anyone else who may be involved in the virtual visit.
What are Technology Trends in Telehealth?
As EHR and telehealth capabilities continue to evolve, here are some of the top trends to be aware of in the coming years:
- Expanded use of wearable and home monitoring devices. Individual patient data from these devices will need to be automatically entered into the EHR.
- Enhanced availability of access to patient information for all providers, so patients do not have to provide a complete health history every time they have a health care visit.
- Artificial intelligence (AI), to monitor patient information and issue informed alerts to providers when a patient’s results indicate that additional attention is required.
Key Takeaway for Integrating EHR Technology for More Efficient Telemedicine Visits
EHR technology is transforming the ability of primary care providers to assess, track and analyze patient data. Integrating that technology with telemedicine visits will provide the additional convenience of providing enhanced care at a distance. The choice of which EHR and telemedicine services to use, however, can make all the difference in adaptability, adoptability, and ease of use.
Amazing Charts Helps Independent Practices Use EHR Systems to Improve Patient Care
In 2001, a practicing physician who was familiar with the challenges independent practices face on a daily basis, formed Amazing Charts to provide automated solutions to these problems. Today, Amazing Charts offers a variety of capabilities to help small, private practices function smoothly, including Electronic Health Records (EHR), Practice Management, Medical Billing Services, Population Health, Telehealth, and Remote Care. Call 866-382-5932 or visit our website to learn about our products, schedule a practice consultation, arrange a free trial, and find more information on how your private practice can improve the quality of care with an EHR system.