In our last post, we discussed how EHR—Electronic Health Record software is the way of the present and the future going forward. EHR has numerous benefits over regular paperwork which not only consumes a ton of space, but is also difficult to sort, search for items, and organize. There are also many privacy concerns that EHR software solves which are present with ordinary paperwork. So, we know that EHR is the way to go, the only question is, what sort of EHR system should your company use?
What is Certified EHR Technology?
The original governing body which was responsible for evaluating the merits of EHR systems was the CCHIT. They evaluated EHR’s by 3 main categories:
- Functionality – This covered how well a system could generate records and manage those records. Functionality in the sense of programming is a complex topic, but the gist of it is that a system must be able to handle a large number of entries and control the workflow of those entries without fail.
- Security – Security in the most simplest sense is how safe a program is from outside attacks, as well as the differing levels of authorization required to access certain information. HIPPA Compliance is a huge requirement for many healthcare companies as more and more data is accessed and transferred online. Think of the information required for health insurance coverage alone, it contains enough to outright steal someone’s identity or take over accounts if it got into the wrong hands.
- Interoperability – Interoperability is how much integration a program has with other programs. Considering that many medical records require transferral to several different clinics and offices, EHR software must be able to play nice with similar systems without causing undue problems otherwise the whole process becomes much slower.
While the CCHIT is no longer active, it’s not hard to see that their methods of evaluation are still important metrics that other certifying bodies continue to use in part.
Since 2009, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) have established certification standards and operating criteria for all EHR’s to meet. There are financial incentives for companies to use EHR that have been certified by them and so it’s easy to see how software developers will make efforts to fall in line with those standards as well so that they will see higher adoption rates.
Cloud-Based or Local EHR?
So, now that you know how much goes into culling these EHR systems, don’t feel too pressured to make a wrong choice! There are many fine choices when you consult lists of certified/qualified EHR systems for healthcare administration or clinics.
The most simple distinction you can make to reduce the number of options you have is if you would like to use a cloud-based EHR, or a local EHR.
Cloud-Based EHR – Cloud-based EHR’s provide a system that is able to scale very well as your business grows in size. Like all cloud-based software, they are able to be accessed quickly from any location and require less maintenance of any kind by your staff.
Perhaps the biggest benefit to using cloud-based EHR’s is that they typically have less upfront hardware and software costs. Because you’re just paying for access to a system that someone else is maintaining, it can be relatively headache-free which is perfect for small businesses that do not have a lot of staff on hand to deal with technical issues and training. You will also have access to more services than local EHR’s provide in many cases.
The drawback is that if because cloud-based services must be heavily guarded, you will have less access to data than with local EHR solutions.
Locally Hosted EHR – With local hosting, you are housing the servers and the systems required to use the EHR. This means that you will be more responsible for hardware and maintenance costs which can be very expensive for a small business or startup as well as have full liability for any data breaches.
The main benefit to using this is that you will have minimal reliance on outside organizations when handling your system. This gives you much more freedom and liberties you can take when resolving customer issues since you have greater control over the system.
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