Electronic health records (EHR) systems are now one of the most important investments a hospital or independent practice will make. EHRs influence practice management, information security, the organization’s bottom line, and even patient safety. But EHRs can also be difficult to decode, particularly for smaller practices, which is why it’s important to take a look under the hood of web-based Electronic Health Records software and understand how they function and what they offer.
Client-Server vs. Subscription-Based Cloud EHR Software
The most important differentiation between client-server or on-premise systems and SaaS (Software as a Service) EHR services is that on-premise system require in-house implementation, installation, and management of hardware and software, while a cloud-based system is hosted remotely by an EHR vendor.
A web-based EHR system requires no onsite hardware, has much smaller upfront costs, and only requires an internet connection to access patient records. This primary difference both affects and depends on key factors like cost, practice size, and the sophistication of an organization’s IT team, among others.
What Sort of Factors Should You Consider?
Let’s take a look at some important factors to consider when approaching web-based EHR software. SaaS systems in healthcare carry different risks and benefits than many other industries, so it’s critical to understand the different components of Electronic health Records software that will affect your practice.
One important feature of web-based EHR software is that security is typically handled by the vendor. This can be a very good thing, but it also requires that a medical practice thoroughly research vendors.A good way to tell if a web-based EHR system adheres to security requirements dictated by HIPAA and Meaningful Use is if the EHR system qualifies for Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs. Such systems, categorized as Certified Electronic Health Record Technology (CEHRT), adhere to standards set by both the CMS and ONC.
Depending on the needs of a medical practice, as well as an EHR vendor’s available services, a SaaS records system may require integration with other systems to function. For example, if your practice uses an external billing system, it is going to need to interface effectively with your EHR system. Understanding integration (and knowing where any gaps may crop up) is critical to review well before the implementation of any EHR software.
Often, EHR software vendors offer a variety of packages with different levels of support, customization, services, and of course, cost. Practice administrators and providers must consider all of these factors to determine what is right for their organization. Understanding cost also requires a practice to be realistic with its budget; the cost of an EHR system includes not only the software and implementation, but also training of providers and staff, possible decreased patient volume during implementation, costs associated with optimization, and more.
Your EHR System Should Reflect Your Practice
At the end of the day, an electronic health records system is simply a tool to enable medical practices and providers to better serve patients in a way that is secure, efficient, and accurate.
Every medical practice is different, which is why there’s no one-size-fits -all EHR model. Choosing appropriate EHR software for your practice, and taking full advantage of EHR customization, will help your system to reflect your practice – not the other way around.
At ZH Healthcare, we’re proud to offer our effective, customizable web-based EHR systems – blueEHR to your medical practice. Our robust HITaaS (Health IT as a Service) certified EHR technology systems are built to respond to the needs of practices to support you in what you do best. Contact us to learn more about our EHR solutions today!