Nephrology EMR Software

Top Nephrology EMR Software Buyer’s Guide 2022

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by Kevin Marsh
Last Updated: Sep 13, 2022

Ultimate Guide to Nephrology EMR Software

The market of EHR Software vendors is huge and can be hard to find the right match. This can specifically apply to the specialized sector. Even though the number of vendors dealing in the specialized field is relatively smaller but since the particular features required to make the specialization simple can be quite challenging to find.

An Electronic Medical Records (EMR) software makes daily recurring tasks of patient recording more efficient and simplified for a medical practice of any size and stature.

A Nephrology Electronic Health Records (EHR) software should be designed to manage the distinctive conditions as well as requirements in the care of kidneys. Whether the treatment is symptom-based or condition-based, or whether it is the scheduling of dialysis, lab imaging or ultrasound reports; all of this and more must be included in the nephrology software.

Features of Nephrology EMR Software

Most of the features of any EHR remain the same, but the one specifically designed for Nephrology specialty consists of a wide range of benefits to Nephrologists. To understand how the software works, a good learning of its features and functionalities is highly recommended. In order to choose the right Nephrology EMR software, we must make sure if the software consists of the following key features:

Specific Templates – To help ease and automate repetitive tasks and lessen documentation time for a superior patient care, the EMR software has inbuilt templates. The templates for nephrology include:

  • Kidney stones
  • Uremia
  • Renal disease
  • Glycinuria
  • Chronic renal failure
  • Nephroptosis
  • Horseshoe kidney

Dialysis Scheduling – Nephrology Electronic Health Records (EHR) Software has the capability to automatically schedule the dialysis appointments between a medical practice and the dialysis center to help streamline the procedures.

Workflow Management – It takes a great deal of recording and storing of large volumes of data when working in a Nephrology practice. The EMR software must therefore be able to manage, record and sustain all the nephrology related workflows. This helps the physicians to understand the condition of the patient better and helps them to take the right decisions at the right times.

Lab Integration – The EHR software can integrate lab results, so they are immediately available without any hassle. Also, the results must be recorded in the respective patient’s folder saving loads of time and making the entire task less stressful and much more organized.

Nephrology Dashboard – A real-time dashboard must be the most prominent feature the Top Nephrology EHR software. This feature will help physicians to not only clearly view patient charts, their profiles, billing processes, scheduling etc. all at one place but also save them time that is taken in opening multiple tabs.

Coding – The Electronic Medical Records software must have the codes updates related to nephrology, to help keep track of the codes outlined in ICD-10.

Image Support and Machine Integration – Nephrology depends largely on ultrasounds and other visual reports. The Electronic Medical Records (EMR) software must be compatible enough to help monitor and detect abnormalities aboding image data for analyzation.

How To Choose Nephrology EMR Vendor?

After shortlisting all the vendors that provide nephrology electronic health records software you must narrow down the selection to the ones that fulfil all of your needs as a specialty as well as a medical practice.

Size – Not all vendors cater the practices of all sizes. Some may be better for large sized practices while others might only be suitable for the medium or even the solo practices. Most EMR systems have been designed to sustain a particular number of users, scalability, and support required in mind. So, it is better to keep the size of your practice in mind when selecting a vendor.

System Design – It is a matter of personal choice to either go for a cloud-based software which can be accessed from anywhere via internet connectivity or a software to be installed in an on-site computer server. Although in today’s time most physicians might prefer to have access to their database from wherever they are, and so they might choose a cloud-based design. But some still might go for a system on their computer server considering its compliance with HIPAA requirements.

Certification – It is always sensible to make sure that the software you choose is certified. The ONC-Authorized Testing and Certification Body (“ONC-ATCB”) is the certification for nephrology you should be looking for. They are responsible to make sure that the vendor chosen meets Meaningful Use objectives and is HIPAA compliant.

What You Need To Know About EMR Software

Overview

Electronic Medical Records Software or commonly referred to as EHR Software represents the electronic method of storing medical records for patients. Using specially designed software, physicians and other medical professionals can store anything ranging from patient demographics to extensive clinical information about patients, such as medical history, social history, lab reports and more.

EMR Software by Specialty

Since all medical providers (MDs, DOs, PAs, NPs, LCSW, OT etc.) work in a distinct manner based on their background and medical specialty, EMR Software or EHR Software must accommodate the unique style and documentation requirements. Examples of such specialty-specific features include the ability to annotate on images or capability to store before/after photos for Pain Management specialists and Dermatology specialists respectively. Similarly, other specialties such as Pediatrics, Oncology, Podiatry, Ophthalmology, Neurology, Nephrology, Dialysis Centers, Rheumatology and Chiropractic Care require their unique set of specialty-specific features to simplify adoption.

Meaningful-Use

Since the introduction of the HITECH Act, healthcare IT has undergone a massive transition starting from the widely recognized Meaningful Use program to what is now known as MACRA, the Medicare EHR Incentive Program. The Meaningful Use program has transformed and now formed part of the four components of the new Merit-Based Incentive Payment System (MIPS), which itself is a fundamental part of MACRA.

For some medical practices, the transition from paper-based records to EMR Software (Electronic Medical Records Software) has not been a simple one. Regardless, realizing that the benefits of utilizing ONC Certified EMR Software far outweigh the hassle and challenges associated with it – ensuring a viable future, most practices today have successfully transformed their clinical and administrative operations to EMR Software.

EMR Software Benefits

Aside from ensuring tangible financial incentives and profitability, practices converting to EMR / EHR Software have seen the following benefits:

EMR Software Requirements by Practice Size

Just like a medical specialty, EHR Software requirements also depend on the size of the medical practice. From solo provider clinics to large multi-provider, multi-specialty clinics, every practice has unique inherent challenges that must be addressed by the EMR Software vendor.

Small or Solo Provider Practices

A small doctor’s office not only has a limited number of staff members but their EMR Software budgets are also extremely low compared to a large enterprise such as a hospital. Due to these budgetary constraints, many providers simply choose to employ Free EMR Software or choose an affordable EHR Software vendor with a low fixed monthly fee. Cloud-based access is one such important requirement so that these providers can access patient charts even from home when needed.

Medium-Sized Practices

These practices usually consist of 5 to 10 medical providers often belonging to the same medical specialty. Their requirements are more stringent, while their budget is also considerably large. Aside from specialty-focused requirements (EHR Software by Specialty), these practices also require unique features such as interoperability, dedicated customer support, multi-device support as well as extensive reporting functionality to keep an eye on the overall performance of the practice.

Large practices

Larger group practices generally comprise more fifteen or often twenty medical providers. These practices usually provide medical services that fall under various medical specialties (Orthopedics, Pain Management, Surgery, Chiropractic Medicine, Family Medicine etc.). Therefore, these practices require support for multiple users to access the system simultaneously, as well as for the Scheduling software to accommodate multiple locations, providers and resources such as Dialysis Chairs, procedure room allocation etc. These practices also keep replacing or adding staff members and need a scalable solution.

Hospitals or enterprise organizations

EHR software companies such as Epic, Cerner, AllScripts, NextGen, Athenahealth, IMS by Meditab, eClinicalWorks, Meditech, McKesson, MEDHOST etc. usually target and provide solutions for larger corporations like Hospitals, ACOs, PCMH, IPAs, CINs (Clinically Integrated Networks), Public Health Departments etc.

These customers have the most elaborate list of requirements, which are usually documented in the form of an RFI or RFP to assess and shortlist vendors that can meet them. The requirements consist of features like inventory management modules, interface with local labs (LIS), machines and diagnostic equipment along with drug dispensing (pharmacy management software) and electronic medication administration records (EMAR) etc.

These entities also require the EHR software also need to integrate with multiple other software and medical devices.

Why does your practice need EMR Software?

Since the introduction of Meaningful Use, most healthcare practices simply have little or no choice but to convert their practice operations to an EHR software. However, most providers today select the EHR software of their choice that best suits their specific needs and must perform an extensive search to evaluate all available options before they find one that is suitable. Most potential EMR Software buyers in the market today have the following in common:

  1. Do not know what they are looking for
  2. Know exactly what they want but don’t know where to start or find it
  3. Relying on advice from colleagues using EMR software already

Although #3 is ideal, every provider and practice workflows are unique and therefore what works for one provider may not suit the other. “One size fits all” simply doesn’t apply in the world of healthcare IT. Software experts and industry specialists are an ideal source of information, advice and ultimately ensuring that the right decision is made.

What to Look For in a Potential EMR Software?

EMR software includes several types of software based on specific applications or functionalities:

Cloud-based EMR software

Small doctor offices benefit the most from Cloud-based EMR Software technology since minimum to no upfront cost or maintenance is required and accessing the EHR Software is possible from any location given the availability of internet access. This type of EMR software is also device independent in most cases and can be accessed using devices such as Smartphones (Android & iOS), iPhones, iPads, laptops, and desktop computers.

Mac EMR Software

Apple dominates the digital device and computers market in the US today, so it is no surprise that many providers are specifically looking for their EMR Software vendor to support Mac operating system (Mac EMR Software). Not all Vendors today work on a Mac device, so looking for a vendor with native support for Mac devices is essential to ensure that the software performs on existing hardware at the practice and does not require more investment in computer systems.

ONC-ATCB Certified EMR Software Vendors

This is the most significant requirement for most software buyers today as the software must comply with the standards and guidelines set by the Office of the National Coordinator (ONC). Online repository details all software vendors and details related to their respective compliance with the measures set by the ONC (Click here). Software that complies with these standards have undergone rigorous testing and confirmed at a benchmark level defined by the federal body. The software testing done during this exercise checks all areas of the EMR Software system from Patient Portal access to the way the EHR Software communicates with other programs and entities like labs, Pharmacies (via e-Rx), hospitals, HIEs etc.

Nephrology EHR Software

Electronic health records software (EHR) for certain specialties such as Nephrology should provide unique tools to document the clinical workflow of those specialists such as Dialysis Clinics specifying the area of concern (e.g. chronic kidney disease). For example, Dialysis specialists with the help of Nephrology EMR Software should be able to reduce the fluid-related hospitalization rate.

Integrated Practice Management Software

With competition rising in healthcare IT, EMR software providing integrated Practice Management software as part of their overall software package easily outperform rivals with standalone EHR Software including those that may provide a specialty-specific EHR software. EMR Software companies with integrated Practice Management solutions often tend to provide extensive reporting capabilities to track practice performance and manage the business operations better.

Integrated Medical Billing Software

Medical practice has several needs of software systems to streamline operations across the board. One such important area is billing for services rendered and communications with insurance companies. Medical Billing Software, therefore, works best when integrated with the Electronic Health Records software. All clinical documentation seamlessly conforms to the required standard and forms a financial document that can be electronically sent to payers (insurance carriers) to verify and process at their end. This simplifies the operations and ensures all parties are on the same page when it comes to the financial health of the enterprise. Medical billing software helps practices and medical billing managers generate claims, patient statements, verify patient eligibility and more. This software is ideal for practices who want to handle billing in-house and can integrate with EMRs.

Security

An EMR Software must ensure the security and safety of patient records while ensuring privacy and HIPAA compliance for patient/doctor communication (Patient Portal). This is a paramount concern for physicians and HIPAA compliance should be guaranteed at all times by the EHR Vendor. Most Vendors today (Epic, Cerner, Athenahealth, AdvancedMD, PrognoCIS, Modernizing Medicine, eClincalWorks etc.) are aware of the importance of HIPAA compliance and have taken steps to ensure the safety of patient records security in every section of the EHR Software using advanced tools like data encryption technologies to enhance the security of the EMR software.

Falcon Silver Dialysis Clinic EMR Software and patient protal

Davita Falcon Silver EMR Software

Specific Services

One of the decisions your practice will have to make is whether you want just an EMR software or one with an integrated Practice Management for billing and scheduling. There are advantages to having both together but there have been cases where some practices only go for one if they had unique requirements that a vendor could not fulfill, or they had already paid a hefty amount for a PM software and weren’t looking to replace it yet.

Ease of Use and Training

Doctors are not IT professionals, and though some might be tech savvy, it would be egregious to expect them all to be experts on the EHR software. Ease of use is essential to make the transition from paper to electronic smooth, as well as day to day practice to go along without a hitch. If the software is too complicated and hard to understand, it’s a waste of precious time and needlessly aggravating. Some vendors offer free training while others don’t; make sure you ask for training if your practice needs it.

Specialty Specific

Not all specialties are created equal, so why must their software be generic? Basic EHR software works well and good for general practice and most specialties, but doctors have complained about specialty specific not being available in the market. The specialty software’s have inbuilt recording systems that make specialty practices functioned efficiently. Only a few vendors provide specialty-specific software, so there aren’t many to choose from. But the more vendors are cottoning on to the demand and there should be more options in the near future.

Support

Support is a major issue most practices have with their current vendors. A good support team can make small glitches to major roadblocks easy to maneuver while a bad one will just make things worse. Some vendors provide support as part of the plan you’re already paying for, while others charge extra for support. Scout the market, read reviews or just ask point blank if there will be a special support team assigned to each practitioner and whether you’ll be charged for the service.

Hidden Cost

There are varying price lists out there, some offer free services, while others charge an arm and a leg for specialty services. Either way there will be hidden costs that you might get to know about later. Fix your budget and talk to vendors you interview about hidden costs within the contract and whether services such as training and support are free.

Mobility

Smartphones have changed the dynamics of mobile usage. Handheld devices are easy to carry around and can be used for any number of uses. Most people are ditching the cumbersome PC for a handheld device. Doctors mostly use iPads or Tablets in the examination room to take down patient symptoms, check history and note down the prescription, so it’s imperative that the vendor has a mobile application that is synced with all the mobile devices being used in the practice.

AdvancedMD mac EMR electronic medical record mobile

AdvancedMD mac EMR

Markets Trends to Be Aware Of

Like anything else, the EMR software industry is also subject to constant changes. From new technology to legalities and governing bodies, everything is constantly changing. Here are some of the changes I think it would do well for you to keep track of.

Cloud-Based Services

Recent research found that only 25% of practitioners are interested in a web-based model and only 50% are willing to have it as an initial model that eventually transitions to cloud-based. Cloud-based EMR software cuts down on steep upfront costs for client-servers and can be hosted on any device that has a web-browser. It’s no surprise that more and more vendors are transitioning to cloud-based software because the industry demands are changing. The move to the public cloud for healthcare is vital in the current changing landscape. For practices that don’t adopt new cloud services, the old inferior feature-set coupled with the higher prices will hinder the business dramatically. This gulf between the old software and the new cloud-based software will only grow more exponentially as time goes on.

Meaningful Use Changes

At a recent health care conference Andy Slavitt, the administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services declared that Meaningful Use was over, and would be replaced by the end of this year with something better. But a deeper look into the claims revealed that meaningful use would very much still be there, only much improved.

The new measures aim to make the reporting and benchmark for reaching the required reports much easier and laxer than under Meaningful Use, along with other changes.

As the CMS has officially renamed Meaningful Use to “Promoting Interoperability” as of 2018, its important to understand its updated principles. Effective interoperability of healthcare data will ensure that electronic health information is shared properly between healthcare and public health partners in the right format and at the right time. Starting in 2022, the CMS requires all eligible healthcare services to implement upgraded versions of EHR software that utilise this updated definition.

EMR/EHR Software Demand

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, demand for EMR software grew by 5.5%. Hospitalizations rose dramatically around the world, contributing to this rise. The current market is dominated by Cerner Corporation, Epic Systems Corporation, Allscripts Healthcare Solutions, Inc., GE Healthcare, McKesson Corporation, and NextGen Healthcare. It is estimated that these market players accounted for almost 65% of the market share in 2021.

Accessibility

EMR software is quickly widening their range of practice types in order to become more accessible to healthcare services. The amount of people who lack the time and knowledge, who are in health IT, is increasing each year. This makes optimising these software solutions more difficult as they must now cater to different needs. Douglas W. Bowerman, MD, predicts we will see a “continued trend towards accessibility” in EMRs, both in terms of how we access them – on mobile, for instance – and who can access the software.

Real-time Analytics

Healthcare facilities accumulate massive amounts of patient data. Patient health and financial data lets vendors help physicians with Clinical Decision Support (CDS). Leveraging analytics algorithm predictions can solve interoperability-related accessibility issues. Data warehouse development is also an opportunity to ensure more accurate patient data thanks to automation.

Patient-Centric Engagement 

Boosting patient engagement through the scheduling and treatment process  is imperative to the growth of your business. One method is to make content available through patient communities, or just increase patient outreach. Regularly appointment reminders for upcoming appointments can reduce cancellations while further  increasing patient engagement.

Changing Dynamics

Technology is innovating on a daily basis and constantly influences electronic health records. For example, common AI virtual assistants are beginning to assist healthcare services, speeding up the diagnostic process and increasing efficiency. Other tech giants are also entering the healthcare field, such as Apple and Google. With their massive budgets, they have the ability to invest heavily in R&D without taking many risks. They have also already witnessed the issues that arise from the lack of interoperability in current iterations of EMR software, and are very unlikely to make the same mistakes. This competition is great for consumers and clinicians as it will force EHR vendors to rapidly modernize their systems with far more regular updates, meaning largescale changes are on the horizon.

Standardization

The current standards that regulate EMR are very lax. Vendors end up having to pay millions in settlement fees due to false claims about meaningful use certifications. However, regulations are becoming far stricter and more transparent to prevent incidents like this from happening again. The interface between physicians and medical billing coders will likely become more separate. This is because they both need access to completely unrelated pieces of information, so sharing the same regulations often leads to life-threatening miscommunication.

5G

5G Networks are poised to become the forefront of data communication method in only a few years. They offer up to 100x the speed of contemporary 4G networks yet may still not integrate properly with the current state of healthcare. As it stands, there are many different formats available that are all competing to become the dominant method for EHR communication. As such, medical records are currently spread amongst these different formats; they are incompatible and so the various EHR systems cannot communicate at all. Until a standard is agreed upon, 5G networks won’t be able to bypass the bottleneck created by two opposing systems.

EHR Footprint

EHR systems are the forefront supplier for paper-to-screen technology, so it is imperative for the software to be inclusive towards a wide range of digital capabilities. Implementing better use of data liquidity will allow data to be more accessible, increasing the EHR footprint. This can be done without sacrificing the security of the data. Implementing better interoperable solutions will also expand the footprint, allowing healthcare organizations to better access and exchange patient data.

Artificial Intelligence

AI is rapidly gaining traction for its newfound reputation of completely automating the process of analyzing massive volumes of data for more accurate and faster results. More and more EHR’s are starting to adopt AI-based technology into their software as a means to accurately pinpoint diseases without human intervention. This completely eliminates human error and drastically improves patient outcomes. It also reduces any costs related to manual entry and redundant tasks.

Digital Therapeutics

Digital Therapeutics involves software that can behaviorally alter patients and help treat mental conditions through the use of different interventions. Usually, digital therapeutics are used through smartphones and tablets. The software is quickly being integrated into EHR software and they aim to be more patient-centric. As they begin to meet industry requirements, their popularity will continue to rise and clinical trial results will continue to be published in peer-reviews journals.

Reducing Errors

In their current state, EHR and EMR software do not properly address medical error prevention. Previously, illegible handwriting on paper prescriptions were blamed, but over-reliance on computers to supply the correct doses for medication can prove to be equally as dangerous. For example, a 16-year old patient in 2013 was prescribed 38 tablets of medication, but it turned out to be an overdose for someone of that age. These sorts of errors are far more common than we would like to believe. In the future, EMR and EHR software developers are striving to dramatically reduce these errors by decluttering the physician notification centre which could cause less time spent attending to patients. Currently, details such as patient implants may not be added to the system before radiological imaging since EHRs don’t actually have a standard place to store notes.

Blockchain

Despite being used more for cryptocurrency and a recent surge in NFT’s, the blockchain has recently found a place in EHR software. The blockchain allows EHR data to be secured through cryptography, making it available only to those who have access to it in the first place. As an example, the blockchain can validate clinical trial and claims results, track medicine distribution and prevent insurance fraud. Although the usage of blockchain in EHR has only just begun since the start of 2022, it is already being used to secure data and ensure confidentiality.

Searchability

One of the biggest hassles in dealing with current EMR / EHR software is being able to easily navigate through mountains of data. Despite large leaps in technology in recent years, EMR / EHR software is clearly behind in terms of its ease-of-use and User Interfaces. Electronic Health Records are designed for easier data access than paper files, and EMR vendors are starting to implement updated iterations of their user interface in their software to better achieve this goal.

Wearable Devices

Largely spearheaded by big tech companies such as Apple, wearable devices are surging in popularity in medical fields – the market is expected to grow 26.8% from 2022 till 2028.The devices have allowed healthcare metrics to become far more accessible and have, in turn, made medical diagnosis simpler. Integrating the data from wearable devices to Electronic Health Records (EHR) has the potential to massive improve patient healthcare. The devices include various different sensors that can track body activity and monitor environmental factors. Currently, they come in many different forms, such as smartwatches, fitness trackers and specialised apps on mobile phones.

Latest in Nephrology EMR Software

DaVita (DVA) Partners with Epic EHR

DaVita Healthcare, Inc. officially announces its partnership with EPIC Inc. EPIC EHR software brings years of technology and nephrological expertise to DaVita Healthcare helping in creating and implementing an easy, efficient and advanced electronic health records (EHR) software for chronic kidney disease (CKD) EHR platform.

Nephrology Associates Adopted GE Centricity EMR

Global Data Systems (GDS) a Healthcare IT services provider helped Nephrology Associates smoothly transition to GE Centricity EMR. The physicians were really impressed with the multiple nephrology-specific features offered by the software. Nephrology Associates are now able to benefit from the innovative advantages provided by working with GE Centricity EMR.

athenaOne Powerful Medical App Loved by Doctors

Launched by athenahealth EHR Software, athenaOne was recently crowned as the top-ranked US medical app for Apple users. The award and acclamation is due to the many benefits and convenience athenaOne provides to its users through its robust set of tools and features. Not only this, but the app is also favored by healthcare providers all around the US because it has an easy to use and intuitive interface helping practices beat industry benchmarks.

Doctors have noticed quicker workflows and have enabled them to place orders and finish notes quickly. athenaOne has got a 5-star rating and has witnessed an increase in download by the users which reflects that the app is powerful enough to support healthcare providers through their stressful day!