Types of EHR Systems

Touseef Riaz

August 24, 2022

types-of-ehr

EHR systems are being widely used and have proven to be quite beneficial for the healthcare industry. However, the benefits highly depend on the type of EHR system being used. Choosing the right EHR system for your healthcare practice is crucial. This depends on the criteria of the EHR system, technicality, function, requirements, and usage. However, choosing the best EHR for the healthcare practice can be a difficult task. This article will cover the types of EHR systems commonly used and how to select the best EHR system for your practice. 

But first, let’s learn more about types and the impact of electronic health records.

What is an EHR system?

EHR stands for Electronic Health Records. This system is used by healthcare physicians/providers to manage and store the patient’s health information. EHRs are computer-based software keeping entire records of every patient’s health information. Unlike paper record-keeping, EHRs allow physicians to get patients’ information instantly. It makes the entire process more effective and efficient and makes information easily accessible to providers and patients. These systems store:

Patient’s health information

Patient’s treatment details

And in case of need, the records can also be easily shared with the respective authorized healthcare providers in a structured way. These providers could be any of the following (but are not limited to):

Healthcare physicians/specialists

Pharmacies

Laboratories

Emergency facilities

Urgent care facilities

Medical imaging centers

There are two kinds of commonly used systems in healthcare; EMRs and EHRs. Often these two systems get confused.

Difference between an EMR & an EHR system:

EMR stands for Electronic Medical records. The following is EHR Vs. EMR, the list of major differences between EHR and EMR systems.

EMRsEHRs
Key PurposeDigital versions of paper charts of the patients used by the physicians. A holistic database consisting of patients’ medical and health information (digital).
Data Sharing CapabilitiesA closed system, i.e., data transfer, isn’t allowed between teams/healthcare providers.Open system, i.e., information can be transferred among relevant physicians and healthcare providers.

Therefore, multiple teams.

Use casesCan be used for diagnosis and treatment onlyUsed for:

–  Medical Research

–  Medical analytics

– Medical decision-making

– Communications among physicians and patients.

Data management CapabilitiesInformation is for historical data trackingInformation is available in real-time.
Patient EngagementPatients can only view their personal information.Patients can be allowed role-based access. This allows them to enter the necessary information. They can also request an amendment.
InformationContains data from only the specific healthcare provider or a specific treatment planContains patient data/health information of all providers and treatment plans.

Similarities between EHRs and EMRs:

Patient records are digitized

Administrative workflows

Contain patient health information.

What are the different types of EHR Systems?

With more and more advanced digital technology, healthcare providers have adopted EHR systems. And with increasing demand in the healthcare industry, there has been an increase in the types of EHR systems. Various different types of EHR software are now available in the market, making it a bit difficult for healthcare providers to choose from.  

Following are the types of electronic health records and their pros and cons:

1.  Physician-Hosted:

As the name suggests, physician-hosted is a kind of EHR that is maintained and hosted by the physicians themselves. Therefore, they are responsible for maintaining the server(s) as well as its security.

For obvious reasons, physician-hosted EHRs are quite expensive. They require a proper IT department (in-house) to maintain and manage the server effectively. In a physician-hosted EHR system, the provider will need to buy the servers and require space to store them in practice.

Pros of Physician Hosted:

Following are some of the pros of physician-hosted EHRs:

  • Complete control of the data and the servers
  • In the long run, renting servers is quite expensive; however, owning them isn’t. This highly depends on whether you have an in-house IT team.

Cons of Physician Hosted:

Following are some cons of physician-hosted EHRs:

 Buying the physical servers for the EHRs

Space to store the servers

Large one-time investment for purchasing the servers

Setting up the servers

Maintaining the servers, the data, and security.

2. Remotely Hosted:

A third-party server hosts the EHRs remotely. Meaning they have the required and essential hardware as well as software for the EHR. Moreover, they are the ones responsible for the maintenance and security of the server. In simple words, the healthcare practice isn’t responsible for the maintenance, security, and management of the servers and data.

Types of remotely hosted EHRs:

Remotely-hosted EHR systems further consist of three types:

  • Subsidized:

A partner organization (for example, a hospital) with a legally binding agreement with the practice/physician hosts the EHR.

  • Dedicated:

The physician or practice rents the vendor’s dedicated server(s) for the EHR system. In this case, the hosting company/vendor is responsible for the maintenance and security of the server.

  • Cloud-based:

The entire data on the EHR is stored in the cloud, on the vendor’s servers. In this case, the system is not on the physician’s computer but can be accessed online with any device connected to the internet. Cloud hosting in remotely hosted EHRs is the most popularly opted type of all.

Pros of cloud hosting include the following:

Compared to other types of EHRs, cloud-based is way cheaper.

Getting started is pretty easy with a cloud-based EHR. The software can be accessed on any device connected to the internet. All you have to do is sign-up online, and the software will be good to go. Therefore, saving your days and weeks of setting up or installing an on-site or dedicated server.

Cloud hosting provides you with high security; therefore, you don’t have to hire an entire IT to oversee the security.

Cons of cloud hosting include the following:

In order to access the cloud hosting, you require an internet connection.

Benefits of Electronic Health Records (EHRs):

Electronic Health Records (EHRs) offer several benefits to the healthcare practice. Setting up the EHRs requires a huge step toward data management, improving the process, and transforming the practice. The key capability of an EHR is to keep and manage the patient’s health information in real-time. Therefore, making it easily accessible to authorized users when required instantly. The following are the benefits of electronic health records:

Better quality patient care:

EHRs allow the healthcare physician to access the patient’s information instantly, therefore, increasing the quality of care. Moreover, it also increases the operational efficiency of the practice, as well as the effectiveness of the treatment being provided.

EHRs also benefit the providers by allowing them a complete picture and identifying patterns to make a more specific diagnosis. It improves the overall medical decision-making process by recommending possible treatment options as well.

Patients can also easily access their entire medical information via the patient portal. It can include lab tests, diagnostic imaging results, diagnosis, prescriptions, and others. This is how the EHRs improve the quality of patient care:

  • Easily accessible patient medical information
  • Accurate information leads to proper diagnosis, therefore, increasing the effectiveness of the treatment
  • Recommends possible treatment plans/options
  • Patients can also access their medical history and other health information
  • Improved communication between the physician and the patient

 

Improved medical decision-making:

With information easily available to the physician, they can make medical decisions in a better way.

Complete, up-to-date, and accurate information:

Digital record-keeping eliminates several errors/mistakes that are common in paper record-keeping. It makes record-keeping and accessing information simple, easy, and quick. Moreover, risks of theft, misplaced records, or damaged data are eliminated. It allows the physicians to keep the patient information updated in real-time. And an EHR system also keeps other healthcare physicians up-to-date with accurate and current information.

Another major benefit of accurate, complete, and updated information is continuity of treatment. This means that if the patient switches between providers, it allows the new physician to have a complete and detailed medical history of the patient. Therefore, eliminating the risk of physicians starting a patient’s diagnosis and treatment from scratch.

Higher productivity:

All the complete, accurate, and easily accessible patient information, ultimately improves the productivity of the practice. It helps avoid any medical errors and unnecessary diagnostic tests.

Increased efficiency:

With streamlined record keeping and medical practice management, physicians can improve the efficiency of the practice. EHRs help save time as well as keep the patients’ educated regarding their medical condition. Moreover, EHRs keep the entire chart management centralized.

  • Built-in templates are available for the physicians
  • Drug-to-drug or drug-to-allergy reactions can be checked automatically.

Decreased expenses/costs:

EHRs allow cost reduction, which is one of the major significance. Following are the ways how an EHR helps in reducing costs/expenses:

  • Decreased paperwork
  • Improved safety and security
  • Improved Health
  • Avoids unnecessary tests
  • Cost of data storage
  •  Time spent on refilling the documents
  • Lesser resources and time required for manual entry,

Therefore, improved medical billing and lesser cost.

Commonly used EHR systems:

Following is the list of popular in-patient EHRs:

Allscripts

Oracle Cerner

MEDHOST

Epic Systems

Evident

MEDITECH

Netsmart Technologies

Among all the above, Epic Systems has the highest market share.

How to choose an EHR System?

The importance of having EHRs should be quite clear now. However, with so many options and alternatives in the market, choosing the best one is crucial. When choosing an EHR system for your practice, consider the priorities. Because installing, implementing, and running an EHR system can be quite a challenge.

Before making your decision regarding a specific EHR, explore your options thoroughly. One of the major requirements is HIPAA compliance with the EHR for the security and safety of patient information. Others include the following:

Cost:

The cost of EHR systems depends on the features, vendor, and the number of physicians being added.

Ease of use:

In case the EHR you chose isn’t user-friendly, your team will eventually struggle to accomplish the tasks. Therefore, causing delays and other problems in the operations.

Cloud-based hosting:

Cloud-based hosting requires no servers or hardware to be stored in your practice. Moreover, this is comparatively a cheaper option, as it can be outsourced for maintenance and security to the vendor.

Implementation and training plan:

Various EHR vendors offer training sessions for the physicians/practice to set up the system. It makes sure that everyone is up to speed regarding the system and has an understanding of using it.

Integration with relative facilities:

Various laboratories, medical facilities, and pharmacies aren’t integrated with EHRs. This is why ensure that the EHR you are choosing comes with that feature. Some vendors are also willing to integrate facilities on your request.

EHR certification:

The EHR system you are choosing must meet the requirements of CMS. For Medicare and Medicaid payments, these certifications are also relevant.

EHRs & UControl Billing:

With UControl Billing, you don’t have to worry about choosing or shifting to a new EHR/EMR system. Do you know why? Because our team of professionals can work with any of your existing EMRs/EHRs.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  • What are 3 EHR software systems?

Various EHR software systems exist in the market today. However, the following three are the most commonly used EHRs:

Epic Systems

Cerner

MEDITECH

2. How many different types of EHR systems are there?

With more and more advanced technology, healthcare providers have adopted EHR systems. Various different types of EHR software systems are now available in the market, making it a bit difficult for healthcare providers to choose from.  

Following are the two common types of EHR systems:

Physician Hosted

Remotely Hosted

  • Subsidized
  • Dedicated
  • Cloud-based hosting (most commonly used)

3.  What is the most popular EHR system?

Epic Systems is one of the most popular EHR systems with the highest market share. It has been the biggest mover in EHR server history.

4. What are the three most common EHRs used by physician’s offices?

The most commonly used EHR software systems by physician’s offices are:

Epic Systems

Cerner

eClinicalWorks

5. Why are there various types of EHRs?

EHR systems are being widely used and have proven to be quite beneficial for the healthcare industry. However, the benefits highly depend on the type of EHR software system being used. Choosing the right EHR system for your healthcare practice is crucial. This depends on the criteria of the EHR system, technicality, function, requirements, and usage.

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