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10 Benefits Of Using EHRs In Your Practice

By: Nextech | March 29th, 2024

10 Benefits Of Using EHRs In Your Practice Blog Feature

To encourage medical providers to use electronic health record (EHR) systems, the U.S. government has linked their use to Medicare reimbursement, with penalties taking effect in 2024 for providers not using the technology.

But avoiding penalties is not the most compelling reason to use an EHR. The greatest benefits of EHR systems are an improved patient experience and a more profitable practice.

What’s An EHR?

EHRs are the next evolution of patient charting. Paper charts only show a patient’s history at a single practice. They might be amended with records from other providers, if someone in your practice knew about those records and requested them.

If a paper chart is a book about your patient, an EHR is a library. Every provider who treats them – from primary care to specialty providers to a lab – can see and add to the same central record.

Why Are EHRs Important?

A robust, certified EHR system has advantages for both providers and patients. Using an EHR:

  • Maximizes Medicare reimbursements
  • Improves efficiency within a medical practice
  • Creates opportunities for more revenue
  • Reduces costs
  • Lowers the risk of medical errors
  • Improves patient engagement
  • Improves patient experience
  • Makes data accessible
  • Keeps patient information secure
  • Allows specialty providers to work together to provide better care

1. EHRs Maximize Medicare Reimbursement

In 2016, the 21st Century Cures Act passed, stating electronic sharing of health information should be the “expected norm” in U.S. healthcare.

The Act required medical practices to adopt EHRs, and gave them until 2024 to do so. Since 2016, clinicians who use EHRs have been eligible for higher payment adjustments on Medicare Part B reimbursements.

Starting in 2024 this year, clinicians not using certified EHR technology will not only miss out on higher adjustments, their adjustment can be docked up to 9%. For the average ophthalmology practice, that translates to around $25,000.

2. EHRs Make Medical Practices More Efficient

You might not realize how much time your practice spends on manual workflows until you don’t have to do them anymore.

A key benefit of EHR systems is the reduction in manual data entry. There’s no more calling another provider to request records, no more entering their data into the chart by hand, and no more pulling records to send to another practice.

Many providers find they’re able to complete chart updates, including coding, before the patient has even left the building.

All of this means a practice can get more done in a day. Practices that switched from paper charts to a Nextech EHR report they’re able to see more patients each day, without shortening patient visits or staying after hours to finish paperwork.

“I get through the entire charting process, including coding and referral letters, in under two minutes with Nextech.”

Dr. David M. Salvay | MD, PhD


3. EHRs Create Revenue Opportunities

More efficiency creates room in your day to see more patients. But that’s not the only way an EHR benefits your bottom line.

  • The data in your EHR makes it easy to identify good candidates for clinical trials. This offers patients new treatment options while creating a potential revenue stream for your practice.
  • Automated billing systems improve your cash flow by reducing claim denials and reimbursement delays.
  • Smart scheduling features help you avoid wasted time. These tools eliminate double booking, prioritize filling vacant slots when a patient cancels or reschedules, and reduce no-shows with automated reminders and easy rescheduling.
  • You won’t want to work forever. An efficient, profitable practice using modern technology is more appealing – and worth a higher price – to future buyers and investors.

4. EHRs Reduce Costs

Providers who haven’t yet implemented an EHR often cite cost as a primary concern. And that makes sense — the costs of software, training, and implementation is a lot to think about.

In the big picture, however, an EHR system saves your practice money. It’s a matter of putting upfront costs in the context of long-term ROI.

  • Increased efficiency means your staff can get more done during the workday, reducing the need for overtime.
  • A comprehensive system that includes practice management tools like payments, marketing, and patient engagement reduces the amount of third-party software you need.
  • EHRs lower the chances of medical errors, enabling risk management and liability prevention.

5. EHRs Lower the Risk of Medical Errors

EHR systems are not just a static record like a patient chart. Their advanced technology – including artificial intelligence – can actively help reduce medical errors.

For example, as you enter a treatment plan, the AI will automatically flag allergies and drug interactions — including interactions with over-the-counter supplements or prescriptions recommended by another provider.

E-prescribing tools also interface with State Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs, alerting you to patients who might be at risk for addictive behaviors or overdose.

Many medical errors are attributed to clinicians who don’t have all the information. An EHR paints a complete picture of your patient’s health record — including treatments that previously failed, incidents the patient failed to mention, and history they didn’t think was important. This key data helps you to make more informed treatment decisions for the benefit of your patient.


6. EHRs Improve Patient Engagement

Specialty healthcare has become increasingly consumer-focused. People have a lot of choices in their medical providers — and being a great doctor isn’t always enough to win them over.

Today’s patients are rarely content to play a passive role in their health care. EHRs benefit patients by empowering them to be actively involved in their treatment.

An embedded patient portal allows patients to communicate asynchronously with their care team, so they can ask questions or raise concerns without spending hours on hold.

The portal also provides a central repository for pre-treatment and post-treatment care instructions. Your patients may forget what you said and lose the handout you gave them. Having the instructions readily accessible with a tap on their phone reduces confusion and increases compliance.

7. EHRs Improve the Patient Experience

Nearly half of patients polled in 2019 said their doctor’s use of an EHR improved their quality of care. Since then, the technological leaps sparked by a global pandemic have made high-quality, personalized digital experiences the expected norm.

For many people, calling a business and waiting on hold used to be inconvenient — now it’s intolerable. EHR systems benefit busy, on-demand lifestyles with integrated tools for scheduling, rescheduling, and asking questions, so patients don’t need to worry about calling before the office closes.

EHRs also offer advantages when it comes time to pay for services. When your EHR contains an integrated payment solution, patient payments can be processed quickly and painlessly in advance, at the time of service, or in installments.

Your patients won’t realize an EHR has made your practice more efficient. But they will appreciate faster workflows that mean they spend less time sitting in the waiting room. And they will certainly appreciate that you spend their appointment having face time with them — not flipping through the pages of their chart looking for information.


8. EHRs Make Data Accessible

An EHR benefits busy providers by making patient records accessible anywhere, from any device — which is especially important considering the stiff penalties for information blocking established by the Cures Act. You can check on a patient’s record from a conference across the country or make notes while you’re working at the hospital.

Once the EHR is open, providers using Nextech’s unique one-page interface can see all the information they need at a glance, with more detailed data just a click away.

And an EHR’s data advantages don’t stop at individual patient records. Intelligent systems offer opportunities for public health and population health research and reporting.

This data benefits the greater good — and can alert you to opportunities in the market. Maybe a shift in patient ZIP codes leads you to adjust your marketing audience. Rising demand in a certain procedure might warrant additional training or a new provider.

An EHR helps you make strategic decisions that can protect your bottom line and make your specialty medical practice recession proof.

9. EHRs Keep Patient Information Secure

Health information and financial information are two kinds of data vitally important to your patients, and your clinic records contain both.

Paper records are not the most secure way to store information. Anyone can get a key to a filing cabinet, read or copy pages from a patient file, and lock it up again with no one the wiser.

One advantage of EHR systems is that records can be selectively locked down. You can set up your system so that billing specialists only see a patient’s insurance and billing information, while clinical staff sees only their health information.

What’s more, system logs track who accessed records when, and whether they made any changes.

Once you go digital, choosing a secure platform for storing and transmitting data becomes paramount. To ensure cybersecurity, EHR systems should be HIPAA-compliant and cloud-based, and should have multiple redundant layers of physical and digital security.

10. EHRs Allow Providers to Work Together

Your patient’s care team includes, at a minimum, you and their primary care physician.

It’s likely additional medical specialists are also providing care: ophthalmologists, dermatologists, dentists, pharmacists, and more.

The easier it is for all these specialists to communicate, the better the patient’s care will be. The reason the U.S. government first mandated EHRs is to promote information sharing between providers.

Besides seeing the treatment notes from these other providers, an EHR facilitates consultations on treatment options. Electronic referrals are fast and easy. And communication with ancillary services such as labs and pharmacies happens quickly and without confusion.


Is Transitioning to an EHR Worth It?

Transitioning from paper charting to electronic health records is a big undertaking, and can feel daunting. But the benefits are worth it.

A paper-based practice can make the transition in just a few months. Most of that time will be spent choosing a vendor, making a plan, and migrating data.

The actual implementation of the system can be done in a few days, and staff can be trained to use the tool in about a week.


How do EHRs benefit patients?

EHR systems benefit patients by providing better engagement options, a better customer experience, and an improved chance of positive health outcomes.

Are EHRs required?

The U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services require practices to use certified EHR technology in order to claim their full Medicare Part B reimbursement adjustment. Learn about this requirement – and other Medicare reimbursement requirements made easier with an EHR – in this article.

Are EHRs for any kind of medical provider?

Any type of medical provider can benefit from a robust EHR. Specialty-specific EHRs offer advantages to specialty providers like dermatologists, ophthalmologists, and plastic surgeons because they include tools, data, and user interfaces specifically designed to meet those practices’ needs.

How do I choose an EHR?

There are many EHR providers and products in the market. It’s important to choose the one that’s right for you. When evaluating EHRs, consider criteria like your specialty, data security, practice workflows, total cost of ownership, and customer satisfaction ratings.


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