According to the recent KLAS report, Ambulatory EMR Specialty 2012: Finding the Fit, in a survey of more than 700 providers, most specialists are finding that many systems have been tailored for primary care and lack a great deal of the features that a specialist's work requires. Satisfaction scores for individual specialties across all EHR vendors were found to be average or below-average. For example, respondents graded surgery EHRs at 6.6 (out of 10) and oncology at 5.8. Alternatively, internal medicine and family medicine, specialties with close relations to primary care, scored the highest at 7.6 and 7.5, respectively . These scores demonstrate the relative degree of difficulty for meeting the needs of each specialty.
There are two major types of EMR vendors that serve the specialty market: the large, enterprise vendor and the practice-specific vendor. While the “big box” approach may be the best fit for hospitals and large primary care facilities, specialty practices have unique needs when it comes to recording and managing patient data.
To get the most out of their IT investment, these specialists should seek a solution tailored to their individual requirements. Since charting and clinical documentation requirements are different from primary care providers – and often between specialties – it’s critical for these practices to choose a system with the ability to be customized to match their particular workflow.
Further, it is often necessary for small providers to create overlap among the physician, practice manager, administrator, etc., with regard to job function to ensure that the practice runs smoothly and profitably. What sets a specialty-specific solution apart from a “big box” EMR is the range of additional modules available. Some practices may require imaging capabilities, while others, such as plastic surgeons who perform primarily elective procedures, may rely on a marketing module to assist with growing and retaining the patient population. This allows an office manager or physician with no marketing background to effectively manage outreach initiatives and keep the patient pipeline full. Or, if an office manager is charged with marketing duties, he or she can perform these tasks alongside more traditional functions such as scheduling and billing.
Practices that choose an EMR vendor with in-depth experience in multiple specialty practices benefit from customized templates and flow-sheets that fit their own unique workflow. This expertise allows physicians and support staff to run a more efficient and successful practice. Leading multi-practice vendors serving the specialist market also offer unsurpassed implementation and support capability that the large, enterprise vendors are simply not able to provide.