10 Questions to Ask When Choosing Your Plastic Surgery EHR Software

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Before you put together your EHR wishlist, consider these questions.

Whether you specialize in reconstructive surgery, cosmetic procedures or aesthetic medicine, you want a plastic surgery EHR that will act as your right hand, not your left foot. How do you make sure you’re on the right track? Here are a few questions to consider during the selection process:

#1. Is the EHR Vendor Behind the Software in it for the Long Haul?

When it comes to EHR vendors, you’ll want a company that’s big enough to effect change at an enterprise level, and one that’s agile enough to make quick changes in the highly-regulated healthcare industry.

Of course, you’ll also want a company that isn’t going away anytime soon – and one that regularly updates their software. Perhaps they’ve even hired plastic surgery professionals, even doctors, to influence their products and to serve as your advocate. Training programs and customer support won’t just be available – they’ll be ingrained in the company culture. 

And, if they’ve done all of this, and done it well, they’ve probably racked up a few industry awards along the way, not to mention positive reviews from your fellow colleagues. 

#2. Is this EHR System Part of a Comprehensive Suite?

A modern EHR system is going to get things up and running for your practice on the clinical side, but what about your front office, and billing? Will your EHR vendor need to build a bridge to interface with your current practice management system or billing software? How many interfaces do you really want to work with?

 An EHR that’s part of a comprehensive all-in-one suite can be used to help close the loop between your front and back office. It can streamline communications between departments, while freeing you up to spend more time with patients, and less time on documentation.

#3. What Kind of Analytics are Available?

Most EHR systems will collect and display some sort of data. However, that may be limited to the clinical and compliance side until you add practice management and billing capabilities. And it may only exist in spreadsheet form until you upgrade. 

However, unless your data is structured in a way that’s meaningful and actionable, you won’t have that wider view that’s useful when making critical business decisions. 

Here’s a rundown of the type of analytics you should look for, and how they can be used by plastic surgery practices:

Clinical Analytics – Identify ways to analyze patient care

  • Analyze doctor prescribing patterns
  • See which patients have followed up after procedures
  • Compare patient outcomes with other practices like yours

Operational Analytics – Uncover bottlenecks and monitor efficiency

  • Track patient wait times throughout the office
  • See how much patient volume each member of your staff is taking on
  • Check your referral patterns and identify opportunities to scale

Financial Analytics – Get a snapshot of your financial health

  • Filter charges, payments, and adjustments for a specific time period
  • Track your accounts receivables (A/R) month-over-month
  • Identify potential cancellations or no-shows before they happen

What kind of insights could you potentially mine from your data with analytics like these? Here are a few examples:

What if you found out that your most popular referral was for skincare services? Would it make sense to add a skincare specialist to your staff?

What if you discovered that patients spent more time in the exam room than in any other part of the office? What changes could you make?

What if you found out that you were lagging behind other practices in terms of outcomes for breast reconstructive surgery? What changes would you make?

 What if you started doing a new procedure last year, and found that it had a positive effect on your earnings? What would be your next step?

And many more…

#4. Is this a Mobile EHR?

PocketEMA™ Plastic Surgery from Modernizing Medicine on Vimeo.

Mobile phones, tablets and wearables have made it easier for people in many other professions to complete simple tasks on-the-go. The best EHR systems do the same for plastic surgeons and their staff.

 For example, our PocketEMA™ app makes it easy for doctors to:

  • Submit prescription refills
  • Review a patient’s medical chart
  • Send IntraMail messages
  • Review note statuses and schedules

Some PocketEMA functionality is also available for Apple Watch® so plastic surgeons can stay connected as they move about the office.

#5. Is This a Cloud-Based EHR?

Cloud-based software has many advantages over server-based EHR software, but ultimately the choice is yours to make.

 Here are just a few reasons why a Software-as-a-Service (SAAS) cloud-based solution may make more sense:

  • Lower upfront server costs
  • Mobile accessibility
  • Ready to scale (add another office)? It’s easier to add additional users

#6. Is This Software Built for Plastic Surgeons by Plastic Surgeons?

If you’ve ever tried on a one-size-fits T-shirt, you know just how likely that shirt is to actually fit you. Yet, there are plenty of software companies out there touting the benefits of a one-size-fits-all EHR. 

How does your EHR vendor convince you that they are truly committed to providing an exceptional user experience? They enlist board-certified plastic surgeons to help create it.

For example, EMA® has a plastic surgery-specific virtual exam room that’s pre-loaded with clinical content developed by practicing plastic surgeons. This preloaded content can add up to less clicking for you, so you can spend more quality time with your patients.

Documenting With a Smarter Plastic Surgery EHR from Modernizing Medicine on Vimeo.

Plastic surgery has a well-documented history of innovation. And plastic surgeons need an EHR system that complements their forward-thinking approach. So the best plastic surgery software doesn’t just fit the kind of practice you are right now, it provides opportunities to scale. 

As your staff starts performing more of a particular treatment or procedure, your EHR system should be making some changes of its own. For example, if you find yourself doing more and more injectables and preventative surgeries, your EHR should begin to prioritize that content in your system, so it’s easier to access. That’s the magic of adaptive learning technologies.

#7. Can My Plastic Surgery Software Accept Medicare or Insurance?

If your work is primarily focused on cosmetics or aesthetic medicine, you don’t necessarily need an EHR solution that verifies medical insurance and submits claims. However, if you do reconstructive surgery, perform other procedures that have been deemed medically necessary, or if you plan to do so in the future, you’ll want to make sure your EHR gives you the option to accept medical insurance or even Medicare.

 If you do see Medicare patients, your EHR solution should offer built-in MIPS quality reporting that you can use to help you meet the MIPS performance threshold (and avoid what the CMS calls a “negative payment adjustment”). Some EHR vendors take this a step further and offer MIPS advising.

And if you need help managing the operation and financial aspects of your practice, you may want to consider a combination of practice management software and business operations services to help streamline your office workflow and revenue cycle. 

#8. Does My EHR Interface with Other Technologies to Support my Practice?

Does the EHR and PM system that you’re considering have the capability to interface with new and emerging third-party technologies — some that your practice may depend on already? This is definitely something to consider, particularly in the field of plastic surgery, where new techniques and technologies are expected and anticipated, by doctors and patients alike.

#9. Can my EHR Help My Patients Better Understand Prescription Pricing?

ePrescribing is a standard offering of most EHRs. However, some EHRs have added enhancements to their ePrescribing capabilities. For instance, our EMR system, EMA, shows the estimated dollar amount your patient will likely have to pay for medication, before you even prescribe it. And, for patients who are paying with cash, our ePrescribing system incorporates data from GoodRx, which gives you a comparison of drug prices at local pharmacies.

#10. How Can You Use this EHR to Help You Drive Efficiencies?

A modern plastic surgery EHR streamlines common tasks, while keeping the patient experience front and center. 

Here are a few ways our EHR, EMA does just that:

  • Patient engagement tools can help patients take more of an active role in their care.
  • Visits, particularly consultations, can be conducted virtually through telehealth.
  • Doctors can create protocols within the system to help streamline documentation.
  • EMA’s integrated PM system uses smart scheduling to save staff time and offers self-scheduling for patients (if the practice enables it).
  • modmed Pay gives patients multiple ways to make payments.

Now that you have your top 10 questions to ask, it’s time to start shopping for your next EHR. Exciting, right? So request that demo, and have the person who’s running it walk you through the various clinical scenarios you encounter every day – step-by-step. You’ll want to get a sense of what your work life could be like, before you sign on the dotted line.

If you’re ready to start having more positive experiences with your EHR, we’d love to introduce you to modmed® Plastic Surgery – Modernizing Medicine’s all-in-one suite, built for plastic surgeons by plastic surgeons.

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