What are EHR Systems?

By March 22, 2017

With the federal mandates over the past several years requiring all health providers to switch to electronic records, there is plenty of information about electronic health records (EHR) and electronic medical records (EMR). Often, these two terms are used interchangeably, which confuses the issue because there are differences between the two.

What is an EHR?

An EHR is a digital version of a patient’s chart that’s meant to be shared between healthcare providers. It contains the patient’s comprehensive medical history, from allergies and radiology images to lab results. EHR systems offer streamlined sharing of real-time information that’s completely up to date and accessible across the entire practice, like clinicians or billing staff, to coordinate care and administrative work.

EHRs allow a patient’s holistic view of their care and treatment to move with them to behavioral health specialists, labs, emergency rooms, and even across state lines.

A fully integrated EHR system offers everything a behavioral health agency needs to support its clients, clinicians, and its administrative and other business needs. It includes:

  • Clinician notes, diagnoses, and treatments
  • A comprehensive billing system that automatically generates accurate billings from clinicians’ notes and facilitates managing the revenue cycle
  • A client engagement system that on-boards new clients, schedules appointments, reminds clients of appointment dates and times, and allows clients access to their records.
  • A complete reporting system that generates a wide variety of customized reports for decision-making, measuring outcomes, and producing reports for audits and regulatory requirements.

Why is EHR technology important?

The Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH) was enacted in 2009 to compel “Meaningful Use” by providers of certified EHR technology. While this is geared specifically for those who accept Medicare and Medicaid, it’s beneficial for behavioral health providers to use systems that comply with the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) standards.

It’s important for HITECH compliance to find “qualified” EHR technology. This is an EHR system that has met the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) definition of “qualified,” which is:

[A]n electronic record of health-related information on an individual that: (A) includes patient demographic and clinical health information, such as medical history and problem lists; and (B) has the capacity: (i) to provide clinical decision support; (ii) to support physician order entry; (iii) to capture and query information relevant to healthcare quality; and (iv) to exchange electronic health information with, and integrate such information from other sources.

“Certified” EHR, on the other hand, is qualified EHR that has met ONC’s certification requirements.

Benefits of an EHR system

There are many benefits for both behavioral health providers and their clients by using a fully integrated EHR software solution. The most important are:

  • Faster access to comprehensive patient records allows clinicians and administrative staff to coordinate care, billings, and reporting. At the same time, clients can access their medical records and receive notices of scheduled appointments and other communications.
  • A more detailed and accurate record of patient care allows clinicians to create treatment plans and prescribe medications with a holistic view of a patient’s medical history, such as allergies and drug-to-drug interactions, enabling safer prescribing.
  • Improved efficiency is achieved through reduction in paperwork, quicker and easier access to data analytics for reporting and measuring purposes, and a streamlined process that includes in a client’s life cycle from intake to the end of treatment.

EHR interoperability

One goal of the federal government is to create a health system where a person’s EHR travels with them from provider to specialist to lab and to other healthcare areas, such as behavioral health agencies. This requires diverse EHR systems be able to communicate with each other and exchange data.

Because of the different ways in which EHR systems collect and use data, it may be difficult for an EHR system to share with another system. Federal standards and structure are working to provide a common frame for data capture and exchange that will allow for interoperability between EHR platforms and systems.

Remarkable Health’s CT|One Difference

Remarkable Health (formerly known as ClaimTrak) is a 25-year pioneer offering practice management software to the Behavioral Health and Human Service community. Our provider success platform enables behavioral health care providers to improve more lives by spending less time in front of a screen and more time helping their clients. Our flagship product, CT|One is a complete hosted Electronic Health Record (EHR) – Clinical, Billing, Scheduling, Medication Management / e-Prescribing, Reporting, etc. – for inpatient, outpatient and residential settings.